They went bust in the Great Recession. Now, in their 80s, the pandemic took their jobs

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  • Dan and Grace Porte, who are in their mid-80s, lost their jobs at Target early in the Covid pandemic.
  • Unemployed seniors typically have more trouble finding new jobs than younger workers. That may present financial challenges. Dan and Grace supplemented Social Security with job income.
  • The couple, from Richmond, Virginia, had worked together for decades. Now, the recession’s challenges have brought them even closer together.

Dan and Grace Porte worked together for decades.

In the 1970s, they started a paint and wallpaper business. Then, after the housing bubble burst in the Great Recession, the couple delivered cars for Enterprise. Five years later, they were fielding customer returns at Target.

But the pandemic brought that to an end. Now, in their mid-80s, the Portes are unemployed.

They’re among thousands of older Americans pushed out of work since the spring. The Covid recession has sidelined many of them for long stretches — making it harder to get another job at an age that makes employers already be less inclined to hire them.

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The Portes, who live in Richmond, Virginia, don’t hold a grudge. In fact, losing their jobs likely saved their lives due to their heightened Covid risk, they said. And the ordeal has brought them closer together, even after 63 years of marriage.

But they’d like to work again, when they feel it’s safe to do so. They miss their co-workers, the camaraderie, meeting new people, the exercise. Money has also been tight without the extra income.

“I enjoyed so much visiting the people in the store, doing the job we did and getting away from the house,” Dan, 86, said.

“We’d still work if anyone would let us,” he added. “When you get to this age, people don’t look at you for work.”

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