Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

Boeing Is Bringing Back Recently Retired Employees

More companies are seeing the value of keeping older workers

LJ Simmons applies sealer to a cargo door frame as the bottom section of a Boeing 737 fuselage is assembled at Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas, U.S., on Thursday, March 11, 2010. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a two-engine jet that will travel 8,500 nautical miles (15,742 kilometers) while burning 20 percent less fuel than competitors, won't earn back Boeing's original investment of about $15 billion until 2018 or later, analysts predict. The plane, after more then two years of delays, took its first test flight on Dec. 15, 2009. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Boeing is bringing retired employees back into the workplace, seeing that older workers with specialized skills are valuable to the bottom line. 
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

To help meet production goals on its 737 jetliners, Boeing is luring retired employees back to work at its plant outside Seattle.

member card

AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

Join Now

Paul Bergman, a Boeing spokesman, said the company plans to hire recently retired mechanics to help with “near-term airplane production requirements” at the plant in Renton, Wash. In August, the company reached an agreement with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers to bring back retirees for up to six months. Connie Kelliher, a spokeswoman for the union, said retirees will receive a $500 bonus for each month they work at the plant.

Jacquelyn James, director of the Sloan Research Network on Aging & Work, said the move by Boeing is an example of companies beginning to realize the value of keeping older workers with specialized skills on the job past traditional retirement age. “Employers are starting to get it, that older adults can be beneficial to the bottom line,” James said.

See more Entertainment offers >

Peter Cappelli, a management professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, said it is smart for Boeing to focus on retirees when it needs to ramp up temporarily to meet demand. Unretired workers may not want to return to their old schedules, he said, but a temporary job with flexibility might be appealing. “Trying to find workers, especially on a temporary basis, who understand the operations and can make contributions immediately is otherwise just about impossible,” Cappelli said.

membership-card-w-shadow-192x134

AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.