The nationwide program will seek to staff morning and midday shifts with senior workers.

By Adam Campbell-Schmitt
April 24, 2019

Despite the fact that all ages of people work at McDonald’s, a stereotype still persists that fast food gigs are for teenagers, likely because the industry has automated so many of its processes that it’s an ideal place for low- and no-skill workers to enter the workforce. But a new initiative from the world’s biggest hamburger chain is targeting another demographic to staff its restaurants: Senior citizens.

A joint nationwide program between McDonald’s and AARP seeks to fill some of the chain's 250,000 job openings this summer with older workers, USA Today reports. McDonald's is hoping to attract them to breakfast and lunch shifts many younger employees aren’t as willing or able to commit to due to school. AARP will post job openings on its website, which will include a range of positions from cashier to shift manager. Additionally, McDonald’s and the AARP have launched a program in five states (Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and North Carolina) to match up low-income seniors with jobs at the chain. A national matching program is expected to roll out later in the year.

Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

Another factor leading companies like McDonald's to hire workers from older generations is that the unemployment rate in the U.S. is currently at 3.8 percent, making attracting employees to low-wage jobs more difficult. According to USA Today, workers over 55 years of age are the fastest growing segment of the labor force, with nearly one-quarter of the entire labor pool made of up seniors by 2024. McDonald’s told CNN that currently, only 11 percent of McDonald’s employees (in corporately-owned stores) are 50 years old or above.

Often overlooked by employers, senior workers can often supply “soft skills” like punctuality and team-minded mentality after years of experience in the workforce. With Americans living longer than ever, there’s both a need for additional income and financial security and the reality that some Americans may not be able to (or simply may not want to) retire as early as previous generations.

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