McDonald's Partners With AARP To Recruit Broke Seniors As Labor Shortage Worsens

Since American teenagers are too busy cramming in extracurricular activities and studying for standardized tests to find after-school jobs, while those of working age without a college degree are too focused on chasing their next hit of smack to pass a drug test, America's fast-food restaurants have been struggling with a conundrum of little historical precedent: In a "tight" labor market, how can they find reliable workers without resorting to unfeasible wage hikes?

Young workers

Taco Bell has experimented with throwing hiring parties and other forms of 'engagement' with prospective employees and offering quarterly bonuses.

Fortunately - as we noted earlier - there's one pool of untapped workers who are both desperate for income and steeped in the hard-charging can-do work ethic of an earlier age: America's senior citizens.


At a time when more seniors are being forced to return to the workforce, or simply can't afford to retire, McDonald's franchisees have hit upon a strategy to recruit more of them by partnering with AARP. The goal is to hire 250,000 elderly Americans this summer. 

Here's more from MarketWatch:

The fast-food giant will post jobs on the AARP job board, and is piloting a program with the AARP Foundation to help franchisees hire a workforce that will incorporate employees from different age groups. The pilot will be in North Carolina, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois and Florida.

"For the first time ever, five generations are now working together under the arches," said Melissa Kersey, McDonald’s U.S. chief people officer.

McDonald’s wants to take advantage of “mature workers” from an “underutilized workforce,” according to a spokesperson. The company quotes Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing that adults ages 55 and over will make up nearly a quarter of the workforce by 2024.

Lucky for these “mature workers” the fast-food industry is on a hiring spree. Taco Bell, for example, is hosting 600 hiring parties through April 27, inviting applicants of all ages to attend a job fair for one of the 100,000 new U.S. jobs the company is creating through 2022.

The share of American workers over the age of 65 currently in the labor force has risen to its highest level in more than half a century. And by 2024, adults over the age of 55 will make up more than a quarter of the workforce. Older Americans are largely responsible for the uptick in the labor force participation rate witnessed late last year.



Following a round of promised wage hikes, McDonald's and other fast food restaurants need to find ways to hire more workers without further hikes in pay. McDonald's CFO said during the company's Q4 earnings call that "wage pressures" are a key contributing factor.

And although the median age of the American workforce is expected to continue rising in the coming years, there's another advantage to employing elderly workers: Forgive us for being morbid, but by the time robots like 'flippy' are ready to shoulder a larger share of the labor burden at fast-food restaurants, more of these elderly workers will naturally phase out of the workforce, sparing franchisees the discomfort of firing sweet old grandmas who are simply trying to make ends meet.