I'm 51, have a BS in CS and have been out of work for two years as well. On the very last day of my UI benefits, someone hired me for substantially less pay than I was hoping for. (and I'm not that expensive to begin with.) I feel like two years of my life has simply been erased. I'm taking the low-paying job because it's better than wasting away at home, pumping out resumes, and going to interviews where they never hire. There's a real deadlock going on in the job market, especially with older people. Government has become risk aversive, corporations have become that way, and technical job seekers have fallen for it too.
1. All the government wants to do is to pretend to fix the problem by throwing money at it. But they offer no backup. No worthwhile counseling or educational benefits to improve yourself professionally. We are just pawns in their game. They throw money at us and demand that we persist in our job hunt, even when it's not working. At ground-level, they simply don't have the resources to help. No domain experts in the field, no flexibility, no personal attention, no educational enhancements, no outreach and no street-knowledge of what hiring managers are saying in interviews. This is a funded, unmanaged process. The UI system badly needs to be revamped. It's built on a 1930s factory layoff model of supporting people when the dog chow plant has to lay folks off a few months. In no way is it capable of dealing with the special problems of an unemployed modern professional workforce, who can be treated as washed-out pariahs if they have been out of work for 6 months.
2. Corporations, if they can be generalized, are too chicken to take the leap and hire you. I've heard every excuse from hiring managers who - simply put - do not know what they are doing. Perhaps this is unique to the industry, because techs are promoted to the responsibilities of management and have no competency or education for it. To mitigate the risk, they act like sheep and assume you are not a good "cultural fit" if you are 50 and are STILL looking for a technical job. They assume the worst, and engage in the worst kind of thought processes and suspicions to support their intuition and excuses, and are dead wrong in rejecting you. Most of them simply have no professional acumen to get over their misapprehensions, and it's the primary cause of the deadlock. There is no no social or regulatory accountability.
3. The unemployed tech worker. Very sad situation. You made enough money when you were working that even cutting it in half for UI benefits can be scrimped off for two years, with substantial personal sacrifice. It's like being an 80 year old lady on social security with two cats. You push the cart to the grocery store because the car is too expensive to operate. Most of your money goes for rent. You hold yourself accountable to the state with a rigor that is unimaginable, keeping spreadsheets and copies of every place you apply to, so in the case you are audited for fraud you will have all the evidence in hand that you were doing EXACTLY what you were told to do. You can't take any courses to improve yourself, unless they are on some pre-approved government list (which only has flagger training, restaurant training, or "how to use MS Word" courses, etc.) You can't engage in anything like a virtual job, open-source work, or anything that even could be remotely construed to displace any of your "availability" during working hours of 9-5, which the Occupational Outlook Handbook cites as the normal working hours for a programmer. The very LAST thing you want is to have even ONE CHECK denied you for doing something out of bounds that would arouse the suspicion of the state. Who can technically throw you in jail and make you pay it all back. You have NO INCENTIVE to be audited, or to take up any sort of self-guided professional improvement program that could potentially provide a technical argument for the state fraud investigators to make a case against you. If it is a synchronous activity with respect to your job hunt, you are on thin ice.
Any sort of scrimping, marginal, but livable income has come to such a premium, that no government wants to give it away, no person wants to give it up, and no corporation wants to pay much more than it. This is a deadlocked cycle of abuse. It can only be broken by agreement of two parties to accept the unacceptable. I suggest asking for a lot less money. I mean WAY LESS than what you used to make. 2/3s to 50% less. You'll get an offer, because the corporations need to feel like they're getting a good deal, a bargain. Do anything to break the cycle of abuse.