Why Fast Food Chains Are Scrambling To Hire More Workers

One year ago today, the U.S. employment situation was grim and growing grimmer, thanks to the pandemic and its related lockdowns. By the end of April 2020, the unemployment rate had risen to nearly 15 percent, according to Statista (up from 3.6 percent for April 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Thankfully, things are looking up now, in part due to the American Rescue Plan, which pumped stimulus money into the economy and COVID-19 vaccines into grateful American bodies (via the White House's American Jobs Plan Fact Sheet). And now the numbers are in that prove it's working. On April 2, the White House reported that "the economy added 916,000 jobs in March" alone, with "particularly notable gains in leisure and hospitality."

But all this blah-blah-blah about the economy is making us hungry, and now that we have some extra dollars to spend, we'd kinda like to celebrate by getting out of the house with a meal we don't have to cook or clean up from. Problem is, lots of restaurants still haven't opened their dining rooms, and it turns out the pandemic isn't the issue, per se, but rather a serious shortage of restaurant employees, according to Reuters, which reported that the U.S. restaurant industry was short 1.2 million employees in March 2021 versus March 2020. And when it comes to fast food restaurants, the staffing shortage is staggering, and fast food chains are scrambling to hire more workers. Here are the lengths to which they're going.

As the economy reopens, fast food chains are scrambling to hire enough workers to meet demand

As the economy reopens, fast food giants such as McDonald's and Taco Bell are facing a problem: how to find enough workers to fill the thousands upon thousands of positions that need to be filled in order to reopen dining their rooms and otherwise meet the increase in demand that comes with Americans having more money in their pockets and new hope for the future thanks to a combination of stimulus checks and the national COVID-19 vaccination program (via Reuters). The answer, it appears, is to make it very easy and very appealing for Americans to work at fast food restaurant chains. And that's what many of the chains are doing. 

Taco Bell, for example, is holding "hiring events" at 2,000 locations on April 21 to fill at least 5,000 jobs that day, and it's adding some sweet benefits for some, including four weeks of vacation per year and eight weeks of paid maternity leave. Oh, and candidates won't even have to get out of their cars to do their interviews. And then there's McDonald's, which has come out and stated that the labor shortage may keep some of their locations from opening their dining rooms in 2021The Golden Arches is also hoping to hire 5,000 new employees — in the state of Ohio alone. Could McDonald's end up paying its American employees as generously as its Denmark employees? Only time will tell.