The Surprising Sign One McDonald's Put Up To Attract New Workers

We haven't quite reached the time when robots perform the drudgework of flipping burgers and dropping fries at fast food restaurants, although a robot called Flippy is showing promise at a handful of White Castles (via Forbes). While we all wait for the rise of the Flippies, fast food managers are turning to the next best thing: teenagers too young to drive. The latest sign that fast food restaurants are desperate for workers was posted outside a McDonald's in Medford, Oregon (via Business Insider). The large banner easily visible from the street read, "Now hiring 14 & 15-year-olds."

With few exceptions, such as berry and bean picking, jobs in Oregon require workers to be at least 14, according to the Oregon State Bar, so this particular McDonald's is going after the very youngest in its pool of potential applicants. Medford McDonald's owner Heather Coleman, whose family has been running McDonald's restaurants for 40 years, said they have never needed to stoop so low — or rather, so young — to find workers.

The outreach to kids who are mostly in eighth to 10th grade has paid off, Coleman said. Offering $15 to adults didn't attract enough applicants. After inviting 14 and 15-year-olds to apply, the restaurant received 25 applications in two weeks, with positive results. "They have the drive and work ethic. They get the technology. They catch on really quickly," Coleman said.

14-year-olds working at McDonald's: child labor or age appropriate?

The banner calling for 14 and 15-year-old applicants at an Oregon McDonald's definitely turned some heads. "I drove by it and my jaw dropped," said the person who originally posted the photo of the sign on Reddit. But it wasn't the first sign of its kind spotted at a fast food restaurant. Back in May, Twitter user @partynextweexnd posted a pic of a sign taped on the drive-thru window at an Ohio Burger King: "Hey parents!!! Do you have a 14 or 15-year-old? Do they need a job?? We will hire them!"

Some people on social media didn't like this youth hiring movement at all. "Not America doing a full circle back to child labor," one Twitter user warned. Someone else on Twitter had a different take and might have suggested the reason why fast food chains were scrambling to hire more workers.

"This is who fast food jobs should always be targeted to. Teens and college students," @Handownmansdown tweeted. "Fast food restaurants have never paid livable wages but yet some adults expect it to put a roof over their head and feed their families with it."

A lot of reasons have been tossed around to explain why adults aren't applying in adequate numbers for fast food jobs. Some people say enhanced unemployment benefits, which run out in September, provide an incentive to stay home (via CNBC). Others point to the lingering threat of catching COVID-19 as the pandemic drags on.