TikTok Is Not Surprised By This Chick-Fil-A Staffing Claim

One of the biggest stories this summer has been the inability of restaurants and fast food chains alike to attract and retain workers during a global pandemic. A TikTok video uploaded by @adrielterrazas at the end of July illustrates this well. In it, teenagers operate a Chick-fil-A to the tune "I am a Survivor." As of writing, it has been watched over 17 million times.

However, very few were shocked by the image. As one person wrote, "People saying that this is unrealistic don't realize that 90% of fast food chains are run by teenagers. This is normal." Others used this to reinforce the idea that the labor crisis was caused by either lazy workers or overly generous unemployment benefits: "Teens are the only ones who really care to work now lmao."

However, as Business Insider covered while reporting on the Texan chain Layne's Chicken Fingers, when schools go back in session, the number of young workers will once again decrease, at least during school hours. As another comment on Adriel's TikTok video notes, the only times they saw adults working at their local Dunkin' was in the morning. The rest of the day was staffed with either high schoolers or college students.

A picture of teenage work

This TikTok primarily feeds into the idea that fast-food work is for teenagers. This is a common talking point for the restaurant industry's argument against raising the minimum wage. As Andrew Moesel, a representative of the New York Restaurant Association, said in an NBC panel in 2013, "The restaurant industry is a launching pad."

Despite this conviction that teenagers run the industry, a 2013 report by the Center For Economic and Policy Research showed that while indeed 30% of fast food workers were between the ages of 16 and 19, 36.4% of that same workforce was between 25 and 54. Moreover, Pew Research shows that during the pandemic summer of 2020, teen employment numbers were at their "lowest point since the Great Recession."

However, Business Insider suggests this summer could mark the highest in teen employment since 1953, which potentially gives businesses a way out from the labor issues of their own making. Going forward, we may be seeing a lot more teen-run Chick-fil-A's.