A lot of people don’t work for 72 years, let alone live that long, but Sidney Richardson did. The 90-year-old retired from a Goodyear Tire & Rubber plant in Gadsen, Ala., last week, where he had worked since June 22, 1943, according to a story written by AL.com’s William Thornton.
In short, Richardson’s tenure is rare. When he started, the country was in the midst of World War II, the plant had segregated bathrooms, and Richardson made less than 50 cents an hour, Thornton wrote. The plant made about 5,000 tires a day when Richardson was hired, and it now makes about 22,000 a day. He’s the longest-serving hourly employee in the entire Goodyear corporation, AL.com reports. The company celebrated Richardson’s 70th year at the plant with a two-day celebration in 2013, and last week, his union (the USWA Local 12) held a celebration for his retirement.
It’s fascinating Richardson worked at the same place for so many years, but it’s especially impressive when you consider how frequently people change employers. There’s no definitive data on the average number of jobs Americans have in their lifetimes or how long the typical worker stays with a single employer (that would require studying a large number of people’s careers from start to finish), but it’s certainly not seven decades.
The best idea we have on those kind of figures come from a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of several thousand Americans who were first interviewed in 1979 and most recently between 2012 and 2013. That group held an average of 11.7 jobs from when they were ages 18 to 48. According to other data from the BLS, the median number of years that workers had been with their current employer was 4.6 years in January 2014, unchanged from January 2012.
Few people will have the job longevity Richardson had, but his attitude seems worthy of emulating. The plant manufacturing director Gordon Linkous told AL.com that Richardson’s picture should be in the dictionary next to “work ethic.” Richardson will be honored with a plaque that will hang in the plant, bearing a quote from “Mr. Sid,” as he is known.
“Put forth a lot of effort,” it reads, “Put one foot in front of the other, and you can get through anything.”
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