Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Seniors on the Job Retirement Not an Option for Some

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Seniors on the Job Retirement Not an Option for Some

Article excerpt

Byline: Marion Gooding, Times-Union staff writer

On break from bagging groceries recently, Donald Bolster strolled the entrance area of the Baymeadows Publix, waving to customers, greeting them as they entered.

"It's a good job," the 77-year-old said. "Good people work here, and I get to help a lot of nice folks who shop here, too."

Bolster has worked for Publix since the trucking company he audited for, PIE Nationwide, went bankrupt nearly a decade ago, leaving him with no severance package and no pension after a 33-year career.

Although Bolster receives Social Security benefits, the check isn't enough to cover expenses; he and his wife of 17 years both work to supplement their income. He works only part-time because he is a diabetic with a pacemaker and has had quadruple bypass surgery.

Bolster is one of a growing army of older workers in the United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of workers 55 and older nationwide was about 18.2 million in 2000, a 21 percent jump from a decade earlier, and the number is projected to increase by another 47 percent by 2010.

Scott Parkin, director of communications for the National Council on the Aging, said many reasons account for the increase in aged employment.

"It's a combination of factors," he said. "There are a lot of seniors who want to go back to work, whether at Wendy's or at white-collar jobs. Sometimes their pensions aren't large enough, and it's too hard to live off of Social Security."

Also, Parkin said, seniors with $200 to $300 monthly pharmacy bills can't afford to live without working.

Helen Sikes retired from teaching preschool nine years ago and took a job greeting customers at Wal-Mart. The 66-year-old said she works because she enjoys working and being with people.

She added, however, that her No. 1 reason for continuing to work is money.

"It costs more to live now than last year, and last year it was more expensive to live than the year before that," she said, adding that if money were no issue, she probably wouldn't work at all.

"A lot of people travel; I'd like to travel from time to time. …

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