The U.S. labor market may show small signs of improvement, but the outlook for older workers is not so rosy. The New York Times reports that the number of boomers out of work has almost tripled since the start of the recession. In November, 7 percent of boomers were without work, up from 6.6 percent in October. That’s after three decades of employed near-retirees outnumbering younger counterparts.

Economists at Wellesley College estimate that 378,000 workers will be forced to retire before they are ready as a result of the weak labor market, forcing boomers to dip into savings, and apply for Social Security before they should. Social Security applications increased 21 percent in the fiscal year ending Sep. 30, the Times reports.

Even if the economy turns around quickly, boomers who have been forced into early retirement may not be able to easily rejoin the work force. Age bias could be one factor. The number of age discrimination claims filed increased to 24,582, in fiscal year 2008 up from 19,103 the year before, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. More than half of resolutions found no evidence of discrimination.