Tough economy finds middle age people looking to fast food - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Tough economy finds middle age people looking to fast food

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Watch out for the grown ups. As unemployment rises and businesses scale back, there's a new battle brewing over jobs. Temporary or seasonal jobs typically filled by teens, are being replaced by people their parents' age.

When you think back to your first job, chances are you worked in a grocery store, perhaps fast food. But for Gary Rose Tolstedt, he never imagined he'd be working in a sandwich shop just to make ends meet.

"After years of being in a position, all of a sudden it's gone," said Gary Rose-Tolstedt.

Tolstedt has been working at Jimmy Johns in Dubuque since September of last year.

"At the time i had been out of work since june of last year and i needed something at that point," said Tolstedt.

After loosing his job as sales manager in a real estate office, he needed something to help support his wife and three kids. So at age 39 he took a part time job as a shift manager. A job he knew he was over qualified for.

"I'm still looking for full time work but for every position out there there's dozens of applicants and it makes it very difficult," said Tolstedt.

Supervisors say they've seen a rise in employees like Rose-Tolstedt.

"You can't find jobs anywhere so if you can find a job here at least it's work," said Anthony Viertel.

But they say the older you get, the wiser you get. And the young people here are learning some life skills from their fellow employees.

"It's actually nice having older people that have past work experience so they can show you things, new ways that you haven't thought of otherwise," said Viertel.

"I would hope that I could maybe teach them something, maybe mentor a little," said Tolstedt.

Meanwhile, during a tough economy, he's just grateful to have a job.

"It's a challenge. It's definitely a challenge but you do what you have to do as a parent. You do what you have to do to make ends meet because they come first," said Tolstedt.

He says he's not alone. He knows of at least two others his age in the same situation. He just celebrated his 40th birthday and hopes the economy turns around soon. So he can find a better job.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

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