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The job market has improved considerably in recent months, but still remains difficult for many who are looking for work.

One of the demographics most affected by this problem is the baby boomer generation, which may have been hit harder by the widespread layoffs of the last few years than other age groups. As a consequence, many boomers who may have lost their jobs during the recession are now trying to boost their attractiveness to potential employers by returning to college in an effort to add more job skills.

A study from the National Center for Education Statistics found that the number of college students between the ages of 50 and 64 increased 17 percent between the fall semester of 2007 and the same period in 2009. Anecdotal evidence suggests many of these students had been laid off by businesses they'd worked at for years, or were offered buyout or early retirement packages by their employers.

The return to college may be especially helpful for older people because, oftentimes, employers may be reluctant to extend job offers to them despite their wealth of real-world experience. That may be because of the perceived cost of hiring older workers, who may have larger salary requirements than recent college graduates and other younger applicants. In most cases, boomers who do get job offers will have to settle for salaries well below what they were earning before they were laid off.

Education experts say that many boomers are uneasy about returning to school for the first time in what is likely a few decades. When you consider the number of older workers who were laid off in recent years, this uneasiness is fairly typical.

In addition, experts say that boomers who stay in the workforce even after a layoff or after accepting early retirement are valuable to the economy.

Have you or someone you know recently returned to school to advance your career? Comment below.