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Golden Arches looks to hire those in their golden years

Nearly 200,000 jobs added in March
  • McDonald's and its franchisees are preparing to hire 250,000 workers for the summer.
  • To fill that need, the fast-food chain is looking to senior citizens to work the breakfast and lunchtime shifts.
  • It's partnering with AARP in the hiring campaign, which taps into many seniors' need to bolster their retirement income.

McDonald's has the "help wanted" sign up, but teenagers need not apply. Given the tight labor market -- a 3.8 percent unemployment rate in the U.S. as of last month -- and a younger generation that doesn't always jump at the chance to wake up early, McDonald's is eyeing older workers to staff its breakfast and lunchtime shifts. Indeed, many senior citizens could use the extra cash, as an alarming number of Americans are ill prepared financially for their retirement years.

After years of billing itself as "America's best first job," McDonald's on Thursday announced a partnership with AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) as the fast-food chain and its franchisees prepare to hire about 250,000 people for the summer months. "We're looking to position McDonald's as a place where people at every stage of working life can see themselves grow and thrive while bringing stability and a different perspective," Melissa Kersey, McDonald's U.S. chief people officer, said in a news release.

That perspective includes having to deal with financial shortfalls at a time when many seniors had expected to retire. AARP on Thursday released a survey that found 59 percent of those polled said it was only "somewhat likely" to "not at all likely" that their combined savings, investments and Social Security benefits would suffice to cover their post-work years. A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office also found 48 percent of households aged 55 and over had nothing saved for retirement in 2016.

U.S. job postings from McDonald's will be featured on AARP's jobs board, and the purveyor of burgers and fries is also working with the AARP Foundation to start a pilot program in five states that will help match lower-income older Americans with possible employment.

The Chicago-based chain isn't tapping into anything novel. An analysis by the National Restaurant Association found the count of restaurant workers 55 and older rose by 70 percent from 2007 to 2018. Older Americans are the fastest-growing segment of the workforce, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It projects 41 million people 55 and older will represent nearly a quarter of the civilian workforce by 2024.