baby boomers, job market, economy, manufacturing

By Chris Eidson

Published 11/12 2013 09:21PM

Updated 11/13 2013 04:01AM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Workers nearing retirement age are having a more difficult time than younger people getting jobs.

Ron Reed worked at the Northrup Grumman plant in Springfield for nearly 30 years.

"In 2007 we had a plant closure, all of our business went overseas," he said.

He and 150 other workers were let go on the same day.

"We were all left without a job, he said, "Most of the people who had been there at the time of the closure had been there 20 plus years."

He and his co-workers are not alone.

In the last decade, the U.S. has lost about 5 million manufacturing jobs.

And in his mid-50s, Reed's career went back to square one.

Something Dr. Lisa Hall, who studies aging at Missouri State University, said is becoming typical of the baby boomer generation.

"They have changed companies or they have changed fields," she said, "The chances are greater than ever before in the baby boomer generation that they might not have a job at this near elderly span of life."

She said age and experience, which used to be beneficial for job applicants, has become a burden for this generation.

"It takes people over 50, really even over 45, longer to find another job than people who are younger than them," she said.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the average duration of unemployment is about 16.8 weeks.

But for men over age 55, it's 28.8 weeks.

"We never gave up. I was at the Career Center every day looking for jobs and I don't know how many applications and resumes I sent out, probably well over 500 in 18 months," Reed said.

Reed eventually found employment, although not in management and at a lower pay than he received at Northrup.

But he likes his new job and is just happy to be employed.

As for returning to his old field one day, that's not very likely.

"I don't see it, it seems like the old manufacturing days are over," Reed said.

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