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Reality Not Seen on Television

by on July 8, 2012

Old age sneaks up on us quickly.  At some point almost everyone would like to retire.  Given current economic circumstances, some people who have been sneaked up on and who would like to retire would like to find employment because they cannot afford to retire.  Linda Hall, in Washington, was laid off for the first time at age 62.  “Hall has no health insurance, not enough savings for retirement and almost no chance of getting hired again.” This is now not uncommon.  “Baby Boomers like Hall are more likely than previous generations to keep working, or at least looking for work, as they get older.  Since hitting a low of 29 percent in the 1990s, the labor force participation rate for older workers (those who are 55 and up) has risen to 40 percent today.  The increase is partly due to employers offering stingier retirement plans than they once did.”

How does a person wind up in such a bad spot? It’s not clear from the data. Education doesn’t provide job security, according to data.. Unemployed workers with advanced degrees were no less likely than high school dropouts to receive unemployment compensation for 99 weeks (most of two years).  Hall said she has a master’s degree in education.  From the perspective of workers themselves, age discrimination is the obvious explanation.  So, apparently, is insurance “‘I know a lot of people that even if you’re very qualified, [employers] think you’re overqualified. They’re worried you’re going to cost them in health insurance,’ Hall said. ‘It is happening routinely, everywhere.'”  (and this doesn’t take into account the Supreme Court ruling on ACA; although ACA had long been passed when this was written in March 2012.)

Linda Hall (who, if you have the capacity for empathy, you feel sorry for, will feel more for her in a moment), decided to reapply to the same company who laid her off, to thesame position she’d been laid off from.  The company was advertizing that it was hiring for the position it had just forced her to quit working.  “Then Hall encountered the final part of the application, which required her to sign a document laying out a new compensation scheme. It would cut her pay from $10.04 per hour to the minimum wage (at the time $8.67 per hour in Washington state). Additionally, management would begin taking 40 percent of the catering staff’s tips, up from less than 10 percent previously. Hall said customers’ bills would include a 20 percent ‘service charge instead of the 18 percent gratuity the club used to charge, but the customers wouldn’t know less money would be going to workers.”

Let me remind you.  Linda Hall has a master’s degree.  She is forced to leave he job that pays $10.04 an hour (that’s hardly a living wage), and decides to reapply to the same job, which will pay her $8.67 an hour (which is minimum wage, and not living wage).

“Hall estimated the changes would cost her at least $10,000 a year, about a third of her income. ‘It was like a sucker punch to the stomach,’ Hall said. ‘How can you do this to the people that have been here 15 or 20 years? How can you do this to us?’

Hall said she considered working at the reduced pay until she could find something better. Ultimately, though, she couldn’t take the indignity.”

At this point, your empathy for her and respect for her should both increase dramatically.

And your belief in our economic system …



From → Economy, Politics

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