McDonald’s Nation Flexes Its Economic Muscle

As a college senior, I face the looming fear of unemployment. In fact, my friends and I started saying “the g-word” instead of “graduation.” I refuse to end every day stumbling out of a fast food restaurant after an eight-hour day at a cash-register, gasping for air, covered in deep-fryer grease and reeking of hamburgers.

But for some, a job at McDonald’s is just what they need, and McDonald’s is answering the call for jobs. The corporation has promised to hire 50,000 new employees for its first national hiring day on April 19th. It may not quite stack up like the “99 Billion Served” McDonald’s proudly displays on its ubiquitous signs, but that is a lot of jobs. This one-day hiring binge does a few things for the company:

  • Publicity. This super-sized announcement not only signals that McDonald’s is a major national economic force, but that is doing so well it can single-handedly move the dial on unemployment in the right direction.
  • Quality of Staff. The announcement itself draws in new potential employees. The unemployed won’t listen to this announcement casually. They will jump and McDonald’s human resources operation will have a huge applicant pool from which to choose, ensuring that it will be able to hire the best people for the open positions. When McDonald’s held a similar event in its Western region last year, more than 60,000 people applied for 13,000 available positions.
  • Terminology. McDonald’s is using this opportunity to do away with the term “McJob” (a job that pays minimum wage with no chance for promotion). It asserts that employees are compensated well and have potential for growth.

McDonald’s says its national hiring day will increase its work force by 7.7% and increase the number of employees from 650,000 to 700,000. Is this massive infusion of jobs really sustainable? True, national hiring day comes just in time for the summer months’ let’s-get-fast-food-while-we’re-on-vacation rush, but many of the positions are permanent. The jobs offered range from part-time seasonal workers to managers.

In order to eradicate the term “McJob,” McDonald’s uses this opportunity to tell the public that most hourly workers make more than minimum wage—often more than $8/hour. The company and its franchisees will spend an extra $518 million on wages and salaries for the 50,000 new workers it plans to hire, which calculates to an average of $10,360 per employee. In addition, when working for a large corporation like McDonald’s, employees usually receive excellent benefits.

The company assures that these are not dead-end jobs, either: 75% of franchisees and managers started as store workers. Of course that doesn’t account for the employees that never advance. I’d like a statistic that about the percent of employees that go on to be franchisees and managers in comparison to those who stay fry-cooks forever.

Even so, I give props to McDonald’s for helping battle unemployment in the United States, which was 8.8% at the end of March. This is the lowest rate in two years.

Will this promotional hiring really get McDonald’s the publicity it seeks? Well, I’m writing about it and I would guess that by April 20th most people will have heard about this nation-wide event.

Hopefully, this kind of initiative will spread to other organizations in order to continue the decline of unemployment. Goodness knows my soon-to-be-graduated self would really appreciate that.

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