The Near Future Of Mobility

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Older Workers Please Apply

olderworkerThe older worker who greets you at the Big Box store is a staple of suburbia. But now, these same workers may be welcoming you at edgy stores in cities.

Blame it on real-estate. But, if you are an aging senior who wants a job, it is good news.

Zillow has calculated the high cost of rentals. In major cities and tech hubs, renters pay about half of their income to housing, and 40 percent in New York City. Most of these renters are young people, the Millennials who stay in “hipster communities,” rather than move to suburbia.


This urban trend is good news for “retirees” who want or need to stay in the labor market.

It might also explain when you shop or dine in these big cities, why you are served by a kindly, but aging Boomer. If you are having difficulty picturing this, a popular new movie, “Ricki and the Flash” depicts Ricki (aka Meryl Streep) doing a day job at “Total Foods” amidst the hipper Millennials.

Older people are more likely to own or live in rent-controlled apartments in these high-demand areas.  These neighborhoods, like North Beach and Cow Hollow in San Francisco, Chelsea in New York, or Silver Lake, in LA are places where rents command 40% of the paycheck or more.  Older people, who settled here years ago reap the benefit as the neighborhood regenerates. These upscale places are meccas for establishing new restaurants, drycleaners, pet stores, and the like.


The difficulty for business owners is adequate staffing. Millennials may want to work in these great communities, but if the pay is at or just above the minimum wage, they cannot cover the bills. So, they may look farther afield for jobs.  The price of living in these trendy neighborhoods, is often commuting downtown, or even to the suburbs, to better paying, tech jobs.

“Retirees”, on the other hand, have a natural advantage. When the call goes out to staff these restaurants and shops, they may be first in line. They know the neighborhood well and can probably travel to work in a few minutes. Most importantly, they are more likely to get by, on part-time work or casual employment. And, high paying tech jobs, requiring new skills, are not within their reach. Fewer hours, but a job close to where they live, may be a good match as they try to keep busy in retirement, and supplement their social security or (missing) pension. The added bonus is that these jobs are situated in lively places filled with creative people. And, the employers are happy to have older workers because of their work ethic and stability.


It will be interesting when the next Census counts the number of older workers- it has been on an upswing since 2008 for both men and women age 65 and older. If older people are fortunate enough to live near a booming city or tech area, they may have  ample jobs for sometime to come. Older workers both fill the void left by young workers in search of higher wages, and they may find it engaging and fun to work in these hipster-friendly communities.


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