According to MarketWatch, “Age discrimination in the jobs market, which is supposedly illegal, goes up in recessions. Some employers take the opportunity to ax experienced workers who are paid a reasonable wage, and replace them with cheap, desperate kids who will put up with anything.” The author of the piece, Brett Arends, an award-winning financial writer, further cites research from the National Bureau of Economic Research that found “age discrimination rises hand in hand with the unemployment rate” and “older workers tend to be the last hired back and the first fired.”
Now, this is not a new thing. Starting before the Covid-19 pandemic, there were fast-growing trends that greatly endangered the careers of older workers. The commonality of the trends centered on the corporations’ desire to cut costs and save money.
These professionals, primarily with roughly over 20 years of experience and in their mid 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, are well-compensated compared to their younger colleagues. The senior-level employees are not specifically targeted because of their age—unlike other people who are discriminated against because of the color of their skin, sexual orientation or religious affiliation. Instead, Baby Boomers, Gen-X and the first wave of Millennials—with extensive experience toiling in the corporate world—earn a relatively high compensation. In an effort to clamp down on costs, these workers make for a convenient target when it comes to downsizings.
There are different corporate ways in which management shows them the door. One cost-cutting trend is “juniorization.” This entails downgrading a position, so that a well-experienced person is now deemed to have too much firepower for the job. This is a thinly veiled code word for saying that they are earning too much and can easily be replaced by a younger, less-experienced person. Management also believes the younger replacement will run through brick walls for the hiring manager, as they are filled with enthusiasm and energy finally having their foot in the door.
In addition to the juniorization, before the pandemic, corporations had already begun to embark upon the widespread relocation of positions to lower-cost cities—both within the United States and in other countries. In doing this, the cost savings are enormous. The amount of money spent on rent, taxes and salaries is staggering in places such as New York City and San Francisco. The senior staff will not be invited to relocate, as the companies seek out less-experienced talent to replace them with far lower salaries. Some are brought aboard as contractors so that benefits are not offered and they can easily be dispensed if business conditions decline.