NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in millions of Americans losing their jobs.

Some have even able to re-enter the workforce, but experts say one group is especially struggling to do so.

As CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon reported Wednesday, some people 55 and older may be having a tough time.

“I didn’t realize at 52 it would almost be like being forced to retire,” Marc Camacho said.

COVID VACCINE

Camacho was furloughed from his job as a hospitality worker when the pandemic hit last March. For the past year, despite applying for hundreds of jobs, he has been unable to land one in his field.

“I’m just barely able to meet my bills,” Camacho said.

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With 13 years of experience, Camacho said he believes he’s a victim of age discrimination.

He may be right.

A new report has found more than 3 million workers aged 55 and above lost their jobs during the pandemic.

“We think that employers are showing their oats. This is kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shed their older workers and bring in younger workers who are a little more compliant and will work for less. Older workers’ health insurance is five to six times more expensive then younger workers,” said Theresa Ghilarducci, director of the Retirement Equity Lab at the New School of Social Research.

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Ghilarducci, a professor of economics, led the report. She said the numbers are even worse for workers of color because many are emplyed in sectors hardest hit by the pandemic.

Since October, the decline in employment for Black, Hispanic, and Asian older workers was more than twice that of white older workers.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Researchers say fewer older workers in the labor force have longer term impacts on the economy and on social services.

They says more anti age discrimination enforcement in workplaces, along with expanded unemployment benefits are necessary.

They’re also recommending the age to be eligible for Medicare to be lowered to 50.

For people without jobs now, Ghilarducci offered the following advice.

“Whatever you do, try to stay in the labor force, even if it’s taking a job that’s not in your field or is beneath you,” she said. “If you have a gap in your resume, fill it with something that is general, not very specific.”

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She also recommends obscuring your age on your resume.

Camacho has done that and has been able land part-time work as a home health care aide.

Still, he said he wishes he had a job in his field.

“I’ve almost been feeling I am battling depression. We see no end in sight,” Camacho said.

Camacho’s message to employers? Please hire based on qualifications, not age.

CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report

CBSNewYork Team