Megan McArdle says that old people laid off in the recession find it hard to get work because
…older workers have more skills. In general, more skills is a good thing. But in an increasingly specialized society, those skills are increasingly specific,. The more skills you have, the fewer jobs there are that match them.
I don’t really get this. If you’re more experienced then you have more skills and more specialised skills. But you were once junior so you have mastery of all the skills that junior people have in addition to your specialised skills. I can accept that you might struggle to get a job utilising all your skills but, since you’ve been there and done that, you can probably do a junior job way better than a junior person.
If I were an employer looking for a cheap person and someone who used to be in a senior position in the industry applied, then why would I say no? i can think of two reasons: first, I might want someone to mould rather than someone who’s already got opinions about how to do the job. Secondly, the older person might want a higher wage.
The first case is conceivable but, in weighing it up against the extra skill of the older person, I doubt it would consistently come out on top. The second seems to be a problem with the inflexibility of the older person, not with a job market that has no opportunity for them. If they were willing to be flexible about their wage then why would there be no opportunity for the older person? I really can’t see how having more skills makes one less employable.