Saturday, May 24, 2008

Reality Check: Survey Shows Retail Industry Hires Most Older Workers

Maria L. La Ganga,writing for the Los Angeles Times, reports that an Urban Institute study due to be published in June 2008 shows that the retail industry employs more older Americans than any other, with nearly 350,000 men and women 65 or older earn paychecks in U.S. stores. "In fact, the nation's stores employ more people 65 and over than the next two occupations [farming and janitorial work] combined, which worries some advocates who are trying to encourage the federal government, the country's biggest corporations and other employers to keep older workers on the payroll.

In introducing her readers to some examples of older workers in the retail industry, La Ganga does capture the sense that this is not the result many have expected in the field:
"These are not exactly the pictures of reinvention that you get in your monthly issue of Fortune, Money or AARP magazine," said Marc Freedman, author of "Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life." This is "an object lesson in the dangers of what could happen if we don't develop a compelling human resource strategy for an aging society."

But though Freedman worries that "the golden years are being transformed into the Wal-Mart decade," he does acknowledge that the retail industry provides benefits, flexibility and jobs, particularly for less-educated workers.
Source: Los Angeles Times "Just one word for older job-seekers: retail" (May 23, 2008)

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