To follow up on a recent post, some experts say that the persistent problem of age discrimination in the workplace could adversely affect Minnesota’s economy. At present, this state has about 140,000 unfilled positions, yet only about 70,000 people are actively looking for work. Should this trend continue, by 2024 Minnesota will have a shortfall of about 400,000 jobs, with 2.7 million people available to fill 3.1 million positions.

Adults who are in their 60s and 70s currently account for about 25% of the workplace, and people in this age group could be used to fill many of these open positions that are on the horizon. However, the trouble is that there is a continued perception, or prejudice, that older workers do not contribute to the value of a corporation in the same way that younger workers can.

One can take, for example, that the number of federal age discrimination claims has exploded over the last few decades, doubling between 1990 and 2017. In recent years, both men and women are filing many more of these claims. Moreover, many workers have reported subtle forms of age discrimination, like experiencing a sense that what they have to offer in the workplace is no longer important.

Perhaps another example of this unfortunate trend is how few employers, at least on a formal basis, allow for employees to retire gradually. While allowing for a winding down process can help a firm make sure that valuable institutional knowledge is passed down to newer workers, it seems that many employees in the Twin Cities may be left with the choice of either continuing business as usual or quitting altogether.

It makes good economic sense for Minnesota companies to do what they can to prevent age discrimination. Of course, age discrimination, or not preventing it, is also illegal in many cases. Victims of age discrimination may be able to recover compensation, which is why they should consider discussing these matters with an attorney of their choosing.