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Things are not looking up for older African-American workers, says the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). The January federal unemployment statistics are the proof.

According to the data, African-American workers between 45 and 74 years old had an unemployment rate of 9.9 percent, compared with 6.1 percent for whites of the same age. The jobless rate for African-American workers of all ages, was a 13.8 percent, compared with an overall rate of 7.9 percent.

New AARP research shows that a large number of older African-Americans are anxious about the state of the economy and the effect on the small businesses in which they are involved.“For many years, older African-Americans have faced an extremely difficult job market,” said AARP VP for Multicultural Engagement, Edna Kane-Williams, in a press release. “Others have confronted major problems as well, but the situation has been – and continues to be – especially acute for diverse communities.”

The full report, “Multicultural Work and Career Study,” will be released later this year.  The survey polled those ages 45 to 74 who were either employed or actively looking for work. It was conducted last November and December.

Older African-Americans – 39 percent – said that it was either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that they will either lose their job or have to give up working for themselves in the next year. Fifteen percent of self-employed blacks said they planned to quit because “business is slow,” 12 percent cited the “weak economy,” and 11 percent mentioned “my health.”

Twenty five percent of all African Americans in the sample that they expected to to take a leave from their job to “care for an adult family member in the next five years.” Nineteen percent had already taken a leave to care for an older relative in the last five years.

The AARP recently launched Work Reimagined, a social network-based jobs program that connects employers seeking experienced workers with qualified professionals searching for new or more satisfying careers and leverages LinkedIn. The nonprofit organization has also developed an alliance with the Small Business Administration to offer resources and advice to encourage older entrepreneurs.

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