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Inflation is squeezing some seniors — so they're coming out of retirement to work as hosts and cashiers

Business Insider logo Business Insider 2023-04-07 (Aidan Pollard)
A growing number of formerly retired seniors are reentering the work force amid inflation. Getty Images © Provided by Business Insider A growing number of formerly retired seniors are reentering the work force amid inflation. Getty Images
  • As wages increase in service jobs, seniors are getting in on the action to offset inflation, according to USA Today. 
  • Many formerly retired workers feel comfortable returning to the workforce as concerns around the pandemic wane.
  • Some even say younger coworkers "can't keep up," according to one 69-year-old former retiree.

As wages increase in service industry jobs across the US, formerly retired seniors are taking jobs in bars and restaurants to offset the hardships of inflation. 

Seniors are reentering the workforce in growing numbers, according to a new report from USA Today. As inflation squeezes them out of retirement, many are taking jobs as cashiers, retail associates, and hosts at local restaurants, among other service industry jobs.

"The extra money is helpful," Steve Weeks, a 69-year-old Florida resident who reentered the workforce after five years in retirement, told USA Today. 

He said he gave up his quiet life of gym workouts, visits with children and grandchildren, and golf to take a job as a host at a local restaurant making $15 an hour. 

"I still had some work left in me," Weeks told USA Today. "Let's stay at it a couple more years; let's see what I can do. … I love talking to people." 

Weeks is among a growing contingent of workers in their later years who have taken advantage of rising service industry wages. Even some in their 40s and 50s have gotten back behind the counter, according to USA Today. 

And as older workers take up positions in retail and restaurants, managers and experts say they may offer interpersonal soft skills that some younger workers don't seem to have. 

Silvija Martincevic, CEO of scheduling software company Deputy, told USA Today that older workers are often better in customer-facing roles. 

"[They] tend to be more dependable, displaying higher levels of punctuality, lower absenteeism, and less inclination toward job hopping," he said. 

The sentiment extends to fast-food positions as well. New York City Dunkin' Donuts manager Wyclif Kpanou said younger workers "don't really know what it is to be committed to a job," per USA Today.

According Mike Whately, an executive at the National Restaurant Association, workers in their 30s, 40s, and 50s kept a distance from service industry jobs throughout the pandemic. But now that health concerns have abated for many in the US, people are looking to get back into customer-facing jobs, he told USA Today. 

Backing up that hunch, USA Today reported that more than 21 million Americans worked part-time this February, up from about 17 million the same time last year. 

And, it seems, the older folks who have contributed to that increase in workers have begun to raise the bar for their younger colleagues. Coworkers at Weeks' restaurant job, the former retiree said, "can't keep up with me." 


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