Retail Workers in Their 60s, 70s and 80s Say They’re Worried about Their Health; But Need The Money

Julio Guzman doesn’t want to stop working.

But these days, just about everyone is urging the 71-year-old to stay home: His wife, his kids, state officials, even the president. Guzman loves his job at Walmart, where managers are offering $300 bonuses and, in some cases, an extra $2 an hour. But now he’s scared he’ll get sick.

“Everyone is telling us: Be safe,” said Guzman, who greets customers as they walk in and checks receipts as they leave the Jacksonville, Fla., store. “But it’s starting to get overwhelming — so many people everywhere and nothing to protect us.”

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The number of retirement-age Americans working in retail has increased steadily since the 2008 recession as they look to make ends meet. Nearly one-quarter of retail workers are 55 or older, and 7 percent are over 65, according to Labor Department data, which means that the demographic most vulnerable to the coronavirus is increasingly on its front lines, selling groceries, medicine and other necessities to the crowds of shoppers who raise their risks for infection.

Although supermarkets across the country have implemented seniors-only hours and priority home delivery for their older customers, they have made few accommodations for their 4.4 million employees who are 55-plus. Many store employees say they don’t have access to protective gear like gloves or enough disinfectant to wipe down cash registers, leaving them with a harrowing choice: a steady paycheck or their health…  The Washington Post

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