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February 23rd, 2009
10:53 AM ET

Elderly emerge as a new class of workers

Clare Ansberry
WSJ.com

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Mary Appleby, 76 years old, lost her job in January as a cashier at a courthouse cafeteria here. She is now looking for minimum-wage work.

Mary Bennett, 80, began filling out applications for fast-food restaurants and convenience stores after she was laid off last March as a machinist. Fred Dase, 81, a bartender until last summer, also needs another job.

During past recessions, older workers simply would have retired rather than searching want ads and applying for jobs. But these days, with outstanding mortgages, bank loans and high medical bills, many of them can't afford to be out of work.

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Filed under: Economy • Unemployment
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Jackie in Dallas

    At 58, I once thought I might be able to retire at 65 or 70, but that dream is down the tubes. Eight years of President Bush pushed me into bankruptcy, emptied my savings, and nearly destroyed me. Will things get better under President Obama? I have hope, but no assurance that any help will come in time to save me from working until I die. With minimal health care (well, that's better than the 8 years under Bush with NO health care), I might survive just long enough to be foreclosed and evicted from my VA-backed 30-year loan that I qualified for long before ARMs. Thanks GOP, for your assistance, as you watch from one of your 6 or 7 multi-million dollar homes, or as you jet to another vacation or drive to another $500 a plate dinner in one of your fancy $150,000 cars!

    February 23, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  2. Elizabeth Cooper

    My heart has always gone out to the older people who had to work because they did not earn enough through the years to retire. NOW, there is not any choice, everyone has to work-–if there is any work to be found. It is just so hard to see 80 and 90 year olds out there in poor health but THEY HAVE TO WORK. All I have to say is God have mercy on this country and the people who have created such a mess.

    February 23, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  3. Steve Dodd

    My mom is 82 ,in the early stages of alzheimers and still works 2 days a week at Sam's club. They understand and we the family are greatful to them. An activity for mom that helps with her disease.

    February 23, 2009 at 12:04 pm |
  4. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    It is amazing how in the twlight of their years-–the elderly are seeking employment rather than enjoying what there is left of their lives-–thank you Mr. Bush--how about that job at Elliot's Hardware-I don't think Bush is going to need it!

    February 23, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  5. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    I always imagined myself working part-time until the bitter end, not because I need it, but because I enjoy the fulfillment working brings me. As long as I can stay active and work, I am. Thanks to having to pay for the stimulus bill, the government has virtually ensured I will.

    February 23, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  6. GF, Los Angeles

    All it'll take to wipe out my mom's retirement is for a medical catastrophe to happen. It's sad that none of us – young or old – can afford to get sick in this country. How is it right that many lose homes and savings due to an illness and we're America?

    February 23, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  7. Annie Kate

    All of us in our family have long reconciled ourselves to the prospect of working until the day we drop dead. Its not how I imagined living out my older years – somehow I had a picture of playing with grandchildren .... but that won't be affordable and my children can't afford to have babies. The American dream seems to have become a nightmare.

    February 23, 2009 at 11:16 am |