For unemployed over 50, jobs especially scarce

Unemployment has hit baby-boomers especially hard. For those over 55, the jobless rate has doubled since the recession began, to 6.8 percent. In real terms, that's more than 2 million people, many of whom once had good-paying, white-collar jobs.

And the older you are when you lose a job, the harder it is to find a new one, CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts reports.

If effort and optimism were gold, Eric Garner would be a rich man.

"I'm the busiest unemployed guy I know," Garner said. "I mean, I work a 12-hour day. I just want to get paid for it."

For the past year, Garner's full time job has been looking for a job. He's out of bed by 6 a.m., searching the web, emailing resumes by 6:15.

He has 50 different resumes, he says, because he customizes the resume that he sends out for each employer.

Garner was laid off from a financial services firm in 2010. Since then he's had a few bites, a few interviews, but still no offers.

How is it possible that someone who is college educated, working on a masters degree, with 32 years of work experience can't find a job?

"It's tough out there," Garner said. "I applied for one job they told me there were 300 applicants. The interview process lasted over a month. I got down to the final three and then they hired a friend of a friend who was inside the company. I was a little disappointed but it's like, okay, something happened, what am I going to learn from this? Make your contacts."

That's what he's doing at ProNet, a career center for unemployed professionals. And Garner's city of Charlotte, N.C. has its share.

Nicknamed "Banktown," Charlotte is the second largest banking center in the nation behind Wall Street. Since the recession began in late 2007, it has shed nearly 5,000 jobs in finance and insurance alone.

ProNet Charlotte sees 350 clients a week. Some were earning six-figure salaries and now face tough choices to make ends meet.

"What really drives you nuts is interviewing and having someone say you've got the experience, you've got the background, knowledge, ability -- and what the employers don't understand is everyone in this room would gladly take the pay of the 25-year-old," said Joe Zvanut, one of the ProNet participants.

The federal government reports more than half of those unemployed over age 55 have been out of work more than 40 weeks-- an average 7 weeks longer than their younger colleagues.

One participant says the fact that he doesn't have a job is creating tension between him and his wife. Another says his Harvard MBA may be a liability with some employers who think it "prices you out."

For now, Eric Garner continues playing in his church band -- and searching for the right job.

"I'm 56 years young and like my grandfather and my father I will probably work into my 70s because I enjoy what I do," he said.

And he may have to. Garner's unemployment benefits have covered his mortgage. But they run out in September.

  • Byron Pitts

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