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PATRICIA COHEN – Over 50, Female and Jobless Even as Others Return to Work

The latest signs of an improving economy were good enough to help persuade the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade. But the better job market is not good enough to land Chettie McAfee a job.

Laid off at the start of the recession from the diagnostic testing firm in Seattle where she spent more than three decades, Ms. McAfee, 58, has not worked since 2007. “I’ve been applying and applying and applying,” said Ms. McAfee, who has relied on her savings and family to get by as she fights off attempts to foreclose on her home. At interviews, she said, “They ask, ‘Why has it been so long?’”

At 5 percent, the jobless rate may be close to what economists consider full employment, but that headline figure doesn’t capture the challenges still facing millions of Americans who have yet to regain their footing in the workplace.

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