Bob Witkop is thinking of dyeing his hair.
Though he’s 70 years old, Witkop has no desire to retire. But at the moment, he’s involuntarily out of the daily grind.
The day he got laid off in April of last year, he packed up his office, came home and told his wife the bad news. They knew the economy was weak and guessed it’d take a couple of months to find something.
“I had no idea,” he said. “It’s over a year later and I’m still looking.”
He half-jokes that he thinks his hair color might be complicating his job search: He’s been greeted by people younger than his children on the few interviews he did snag. The managers and career-long colleagues have retired. For the first time, Witkop’s not being wooed to a new post by a recruiter who knew his skills and wanted him specifically.
His experience spans decades. Witkop’s a software and systems engineer and has remotely tracked troops and gear in Iraq, jammed the radar systems of enemy combatants and streamlined patient records systems in hospitals.
While joblessness isn’t palatable for any economic bracket, it hits these former managers, bosses and mentors especially hard. They used to hire people. Now some can’t get past the security guard at a company headquarters, or catch any online attention from posting their resumés. Many haven’t looked for jobs for decades — some worked that long in one place and others always had recruiters calling them.
This economy, on uncertain footing after one of the biggest downturns in years, is a tough place to be an older job seeker.
“We’re seeing people with management positions, no degrees, some degrees, even Ph.D.s,” said Gary Moss, who researches the labor market for the San Diego Workforce Partnership. “It hasn’t missed any level of education.”
Indeed, the San Diego job market is flush with out-of-work people. The county’s unemployment rate was @kellyrbennett.