What are the forces moving the Minnesota economy? Adam Belz tries to identify the trends and show the connections between Minnesota and the larger U.S. and global economies. You can connect with him on Twitter: @adambelz

10 useful comments on the "Over 50" story

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends, Economics Updated: February 3, 2014 - 6:04 PM

Usually the comments left on a news story are a cesspool of pro-Democratic versus pro-Republican nonsense. But not always.

My Sunday story on the struggles of older workers had its share of people arguing about politics at the bottom of it, but it also had dozens of interesting comments from people I wish I had been able to talk to before we published the story. It was part 2 of a series we kicked off a couple weeks ago, and the huge response to the stories tells us we've struck a chord.

Here are 10 comments from Sunday's story I picked out and took the liberty of writing a headline for:

Something of a success story

county23Feb. 1, 2014 10:19 PM

At 56 yrs of age, I left a job I had for 17yrs for a different job that didn't work out. I found it a full time job trying to get anything.. I interviewed for several contract position before landing one, what I found the hardest was, being interviewed by younger 30-40yr olds.. the ones that were more receptive to your experience were the ones in their late 40's to 50's. I was fortunate that I contracted with a company that management appreciated what brought to the table and has offered me a fulltime position.. I hope I can retire from this current company.

A company that hires older workers

mowjo1Feb. 2, 2014 7:58 AM

Our Company has very specific guidelines when hiring. Hiring managers are given the job profile and told to ask questions based on the requirements of the job. Asking "Tell me about yourself" is an open invitation to potential age discrimination charges. We've hired many applicants in their mid-50's and found them to be extremely reliable, grateful and willing to do whatever is asked, including taking additional training. They are willing to learn technology from the younger employees and are great mentors from a business world perspective to the younger employees. One applicant whom we hired (in his mid-50's) couldn't believe we would hire him. When we asked why he thought that he replied "I'm older than most". And we replied "With the experience we are looking for". He's been promoted twice in five years.

Yep, HR staffers often discriminate against older workers

kkjerFeb. 2, 2014 8:44 AM

"Skluzacek, who says she is not a flashy person, says she has learned to be wary of young women in human resources departments, saying she usually doesn’t hit it off with them." As a person with a PhD in HR, I find this to be very true. I find a couple of reasons. One most of the younger women in HR have not been invited to the table by senior management. As a result they are not very business savvy and are essentially recruiters with basic HR responsibility. When I find a young woman who has broken through that glass ceiling I don't find that to be true at all. Obviously when someone walks in the room and says tell me about yourself. That person is a terrible interviewer and has not done any homework. The other aspect I find that prejudicial to older applicants is the use of canned interview questions, and the use of pre-applicant online screening. The problem as I see these tests is that they are designed to provide the perfect job candidate, which is usually a younger person, with certain attributes. I strongly feel that is a method of age discrimination, without mentioning age. Simple by writing certain key likes and dislikes into the personality part of the test, one would be able to pick and choose the age of the candidate the company wants, thereby eliminating anyone not of the proper age.

This is not a political issue, folks

strib1991Feb. 2, 2014 9:49 AM

I don't think this a political issue. It's a bad cycle in the economy, it happens every 25 years or so. Our family spends a little/lot less on crap we didn't need in the first place. We roll with the punches and are thankful for what we have...our health

Years of accumulated skills and wisdom thrown away

annsypFeb. 2, 2014 11:27 AM

This is tragic, not only for the workers affected but for our economy. Think of the thousands of accumulated years of skills, wisdom and experience that employers are throwing away when they refuse to hire older workers. They would rather hire a younger person who, as the article says, doesn't consider a job as "a permanent position, but something more fluid." You can bet that person will be off to greener pastures at the first opportunity, after the employer has invested in training him or her. Sadly short-sighted.

Republicans and Democrats are both partly responsible for today's economy

wickeywackeyFeb. 2, 2014 11:51 AM

Reading some of the comments here is like the twins in the old Certs breath mint commercial "Certs is a breath mint", "No, Certs is a candy mint" "No, stop - you're both right". Republicans and Democrats are right - both parties have killed America. From Bubba Clinton's financial deregulation, NAFTA, Greenspan, and the H1B explosion, to Bush/Obama's Global War Anytime initiatives and Wall Street bailouts and the TPP. The Dot.com and housing bubbles, and zero percent interest rates to Fed purchases of Wall Street toxic derivative mortgage garbage that Wall Street themselves created. To immigration reform that goes nowhere without insuring fat profits for some sector, a thousand military bases all over the world, the highest number of prison inmates of any country, a major nuclear weapons upgrade and total communications surveillance. But the only thing the elite Dem and Repubs can think about is cutting Social Security and SS Disability, under-funding pensions, screwing retirement savings in favor of Wall Street, and keeping the health care system under control of the insurance companies and Big Pharma.

To those criticizing Mike Duffy for not saving enough money: He has a disabled son

minneg56Feb. 2, 2014 1:04 PM

Some posters have judgementally suggested that the subject of the article should have saved / invested money earned from a 6 figure income over a number of years. What these naive posters don't factor into the equation is the Duffy's raised a disabled child. Those naive enough to believe their health insurance took care of everything? Well, as a parent who has raised a disabled child to adulthood as well, I can tell you the Duffy's resources were likely diverted to covering the enormous gaps in insurance coverage and delays in reimbursements to the Duffys for out of pocket expenses for additional care and accomodations. If they tried to enrol thier son under state coverage during the 'higher income years' it would have been on a sliding income scale. So while Duffy was working for the higher income, much of what he earned would have gone to pay for that as well. I can also say it is likely that if the Duffy's son was on the company health insurance plan, as Mr. Duffy was exiting his long time job he was likely getting a pretty 'hearty push out the door' from the employer - who knew his family insurance needs for their son's disability was also was driving up the company insurance premium. Don't think this doesn't happen because it does EVERY DAY! Further, once Mr. Duffy lost his job, he likely lost his access to reasonably priced health insurance (if there is such a thing). Oh sure, there's COBRA which simply means you can retain your insurance at STREET RATE for 18 months - not at the much lower cost company subsidized rate you get while you work with the employer. I don't care what you used to make - try paying 'street rate' for health insurance under COBRA with NO JOB? Well, I hope nobody else ever has to give it a try. Until you've been there ... you'd never know. Again, the Duffy's have all my respect.

Happy as an older school bus driver

nppd03Feb. 3, 2014 12:21 AM

I certainly feel for people who are eager to work, yet it seems they are not wanted. I too was in this same boat, until I ran into an old friend who suggested I look into driving school bus. Initially I thought my friend was crazy, because I did not think I could handle the noise of the kids. However, I got my permit, found a company that was willing to train me, and started driving. I found this job is very rewarding, I have a chance to make a positive impact on the lives of children each day, I have evenings and weekends off, and as a part-time job I make pretty good money. Although driving school bus is not for everyone, I have found I not only enjoy my job, but I look forward to going to work each day knowing I am making a positive impact on the lives of others.

Getting looked over and discarded by a young interviewer

efrik1 Feb. 3, 2014  9:31 AM

At 49, I was downsized from a corporate position with a major electronics company (after receiving two "Mission Impossible" awards the previous two years. I interviewed for a similar position with a corporation in Minneapolis. The interviewer was a 20 something female who was looking at me like, "Why are you here wasting my time?. Do you really think I'm going to hire some gray-haired, partially bald guy?" I'll never forget that look on her face.

HR, HR, HR, HR!

rschildkFeb. 3, 2014 11:18 AM

In my 45 years of employment I have found the biggest challenge to overcome is ALWAYS the HR Dept. HR Dept.s have very high turnover in their staff of overworked, under-trained, and generally clueless young people who are genuinely trying to do a good job, but have to respond to the "hot buzzword of the week" whims of their disconnected upper management and the "whatever you do, don't get us sued" attitude of the legal Dept. This creates a "lose/lose" situation for older workers, who may have the talent, skills, and experience to do a GREAT job, but not the "hot buzzword" credentials the HR Dept has been ordered to filter for and they are seen as more risky by the Legal Departments (due to IP issues, non-competes, discrimination lawsuits, ect.) If you can get by the HR Dept. (or sidestep it altogether) your chances increase exponentially.

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