With older adults projected to represent a much larger share of the U.S. labor force in the years ahead, it is likely that the composition of the restaurant industry workforce will also continue to evolve, according to the NRA’s Chief Economist Bruce Grindy. His Economist’s Notebook commentary and analysis appears regularly on Restaurant.org and Restaurant TrendMapper.
In recent years, uncertainties in the availability of teen labor has led many restaurant operators to look to other demographic groups to fill their staffing needs.
Although older adults still represent a relatively small proportion of the restaurant workforce, they were the fastest growing demographic group in recent years. The number of adults 55 or older working in the restaurant industry jumped 51 percent between 2007 and 2016, an increase of 290,000 individuals.
Looking inside this demographic, the 65-plus cohort is expected to offer the greatest opportunity for continued growth in the years ahead.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor force participation rate of adults 65 or older reached 19.3 percent in 2016 – the highest level since 1961 (20.1 percent). Participation rose from just 16.0 percent in 2007, which meant an additional 3.5 million people entering the labor force during this period.
Looking ahead, older adults are projected to become a much larger component of the labor pool. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that an additional 4 million adults 65 or older will enter the labor force by the year 2024. This is expected to be the largest source of labor force growth among any of the age cohorts.
With older adults projected to make up a larger share of the U.S. labor force, it is likely that the composition of the restaurant industry workforce will also continue to evolve in the years ahead.