“Out-of-Work Boomers: Learning to Stay Positive in Tough Times” in Stay Thirsty

Our March Stay Thirsty column:

Last month, Over 50 and Out of Work screened a rough cut of one segment of our documentary-in-the-making at a career networking group meeting in Bronxville, N.Y. The section we previewed focuses on Joe P., 52, a former steelworker from Weirton, W.Va.

Joe followed in the footsteps of both his father and grandfather when he signed on at the steel mill as a young man. He anticipated that he would make a good living and looked forward to a secure retirement, but his career did not turn out as he expected. He was laid off seven times over his 25 years in the mill due to the decline in U.S. steel manufacturing and his pension benefit was cut drastically when Weirton Steel declared bankruptcy in 2003.

Joe clung for years to the hope that he would be able to do the work he loved in the mill, but he gradually realized and accepted that he would have to begin a new career in his fifties. Remarkably, he succeeded due to his persistence and determination. He now works as a machinist at a plant in Pennsylvania that manufactures solar mirrors.

Although our screening audience in Bronxville consisted of former bankers, information technology project managers, teachers and graphic designers rather than steelworkers like Joe, they recognized and often shared the hardships caused by prolonged periods of unemployment that Joe faced – financial difficulties, health insurance concerns, worries about retirement and the future, loss of self-esteem, age discrimination and a frustrating job search.

Older workers frequently grapple with feelings of isolation and embarrassment about their unemployed status as they hunt for new jobs. One goal of Over 50 and Out of Work, both through our website and our documentary, is to demonstrate to 50-plus unemployed or underemployed workers that they are not alone.

To read more, click here.




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