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CTDO Magazine

The Far-Reaching Costs of Ageism

Thursday, April 15, 2021

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that one in four workers in 2026 will be age 55 and older—that’s up from one in eight in 1990. And although the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits employers from displaying bias against most applicants and employees 40 years or older with regard to hiring and firing, promotions, compensation, or employment terms and conditions, older workers still face bias and discrimination.

In 2018, AARP conducted a study that found that nearly two out of three workers over age 45 have seen or experienced ageism on the job. Bias can take the shape of age-specific stereotypes, such as the notion that older workers are resistant to change or not as technologically competent. Or it can be distasteful jokes about aging and even unethical and illegal actions like refusing to promote a qualified employee because of their age.


Here’s how age bias is playing out today.

$3.9 trillion
The US economic losses because of age discrimination could reach almost $4 trillion by 2050.
of older workers worry they could lose their jobs this year, in part because of their age.
of workers age 60 and older were passed up for job opportunities because of their age.
2 in 5
workers age 60 and older have been overlooked for raises and promotions because of their age.
During the pandemic, older employed workers are 17% more likely to fall into unemployment than midcareer workers.
of older workers believe they will need to learn new skills to get a new job.
Sources The Value of Experience: AARP Multicultural Work & Jobs Study Chartbook for Total Respondents, AARP, 2018; “Age Discrimination Costs the Nation $850 Billion, Study Finds,” AARP, 2020; “Age Bias Could Lead to Job Loss This Year, Many Workers Fear,” AARP, 2021; “A First in Nearly 50 Years, Older Workers Face Higher Unemployment Than Mid-Career Workers,” Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, 2020; 2020 Report on Age Discrimination in the Workplace, Senior Living, 2020

Read more from CTDO magazine: Essential talent development content for C-suite leaders.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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