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The silver-collar economy —

More companies are hiring people 65 and older because they believe they are reliable and productive, while the seniors themselves need – and want – to work. But is the trend squeezing out young people? ...

Often older workers accept lower pay in return for jobs that are less demanding. (The needle plant emphasizes precision and quality control, but most of the jobs aren't highly skilled.)

Employers have also come to appreciate older workers for their dedication and performance. Sure, there are negative perceptions, too. Jackie James, director of research at Boston College's Sloan Center on Aging & Work, says some employers view older workers as less flexible and less interested in learning new skills. But her group's surveys find that people with silver hair and empty nests win over employers in prominent ways.

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