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Restaurant Industry 2030 Report Predicts Much Older Labor Force

December 3, 2019

Original content c/o: National Restaurant Association

Big labor changes are coming in the next decade. Restaurateurs will hire older employees to staff their businesses.

The restaurant industry, facing a tight labor market and the prospect of employing 17 million people by 2030, is bracing for sea change. Over the next 10 years, restaurant companies will hire older employees as its younger talent pool shrinks.

Older Employees

The numbers don’t lie …

According to the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Industry 2030: Actionable Insights for the Future, there will be about 1.2 million fewer 16- to 24-year-olds in the labor force by 2028 to fill those 17 million jobs. This is significant because that group today represents up to 40% of the industry’s workforce. So who will make up the difference? Smart money is on older employees.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects there will be 6.1 million more adults ages 65 or older in the labor force by 2028. In fact, older employees are expected to outnumber their teen counterparts by more than 3 to 1. In the next decade, the number of 65- to 74-year-olds in the labor force could increase by 4.2 million. Furthermore, it’s projected that adults in the workforce ages 75 and older will increase by 1.9 million.

"Trends in labor-force participation will vary by age growth,” says Hudson Riehle, the Association's senior vice president of research. “As older adults become more prevalent in the workforce and the number of teenage workers likely dwindles, restaurants will adopt hiring practices that reflect this change and enhance recruitment and retention of employees."

Four reasons older adults can make attractive hires:

Why should restaurants look to this older demographic when mining for new talent? Several reasons according to a study conducted by New York-based research firm TLRanalytics:

  • Older employees tend to be dedicated, and produce higher quality work, which often results in cost savings for employers.
  • Those 55 and over today tend to be healthier and better educated than people the same age in decades past.
  • Older managers bring value because of experience and skills; they can guide younger employees.
  • Employees 65 and older who qualify for Medicare can be attractive to businesses because their health insurance costs may already be covered.

McDonald’s has begun taking steps to hire older employees. Recognizing the trends ahead, it has partnered with AARP to hire more older adults. Melissa Kersey, McDonald’s USA chief people officer, said the goal is “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 that everyone can learn from.”

Download the National Restaurant Association's 2030 report to learn more about the industry’s future.