Fast Food Chains Increasingly Turning to Retirees Over Teens

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Nov 5, 2018

Fast food chains are increasingly staffed by retirees, as senior citizens accelerate their entry into minimum wage jobs, replacing the teens that once dominated such positions, according to Bloomberg. This is evidenced not only by directly seeing who is behind the cash register but also that chains are directly recruiting at senior centers, churches and even the AARP website. This is a combined effect from, one, fewer teens entering the workforce and, two, senior citizens having to supplement their income with part-time work: Bloomberg said that between 2014 and 2024, the number of working Americans aged 65 to 74 is expected to grow 4.5 percent, while those aged 16 to 24 is expected to shrink 1.4 percent. 

The number of teenagers working has been steadily going down over the decades. While this year saw a spike in young people working, the rate is still lower than it was in the 80s, the peak of youth employment. There are several possible reasons for this. One is that older Americans began entering jobs traditionally done by teens as a reaction to the financial crisis. Another is that more teenagers are focused on school instead of work, as higher education becomes more competitive, and admissions tend to favor community service and academic programs over paid work. 

"The major reason teens give for not being in the labor force is that they are attending school," said a Bureau of Labor Statistics report

On the other wise of the equation, many senior citizens are finding that their retirement savings are not enough to support them, that is if they have any at all, and so turn to part-time work to make up the difference. Beyond that, there are others who are working to stay active and engaged with the world. 

Regardless of the reason, perhaps we'll need to start adjusting our stereotype of who works in fast food chains and other minimum wage jobs. 

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