McDonald's one-day hiring blitz seen as PR move

LOS ANGELES Mon Apr 4, 2011 7:36pm EDT

A McDonald's restaurant in Washington D.C., January 22, 2010. REUTERS/Larry Downing/Files

A McDonald's restaurant in Washington D.C., January 22, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing/Files

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Fast-food chain McDonald's Corp, trying to grab positive headlines in an economic recovery still struggling to create living-wage jobs, announced on Monday that it would do all of its spring hiring in one fell swoop.

The world's biggest hamburger chain -- which for years has wanted to stop the use of "McJob" as shorthand for low-wage, dead-end work -- said it plans to hire up to 50,000 new U.S. workers on April 19. The jobs range from restaurant crew to managers.

Janney Capital Markets analyst Mark Kalinowski told Reuters that the announcement "certainly seems like a way to attract some favorable publicity around something it was more or less going to do anyway."

McDonald's said the hiring blitz would increase its U.S. workforce by 7.7 percent to 700,000 -- which is no different from prior summer staff increases.

"Our total hires are similar to past years, but the goal of hiring 50,000 people in one day across the U.S. is unique," McDonald's spokeswoman Ashlee Yingling told Reuters.

Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald's said in a statement that its April hiring event is an opportunity to highlight that "a McJob is one with career growth and endless possibilities."

Many of McDonald's top executives and franchisees worked their way up the company ranks, the spokeswoman pointed out.

McDonald's hourly restaurant workers often make more than $8 per hour, the company spokeswoman said. That is above minimum wage but comes to just $16,640 annually for a person working 40 hours a week with no time off. The federal poverty cut-off for an individual is $10,890.

The new hires could nudge up April employment numbers but a job paying about $320 a week -- 40 hours at $8 an hour -- would offer only slight relief to workers whose unemployment benefits are running out or who want to do more than eke out a living.

The average unemployment benefit was about $300 per week in early 2010, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The goal of the unemployment benefits program is to provide people with about half their normal wage.

There are some 14,000 McDonald's restaurants in the United States. Ninety percent of them are run by franchisees, and what they pay their workers varies by ownership.

McDonald's February sales at its U.S. restaurants open at least 13 months rose 2.7 percent from a year earlier.

U.S. employment grew firmly for a second straight month in March and the jobless rate hit a two-year low of 8.8 percent, underscoring a decisive shift in the labor market that should help to underpin the recovery.

Income for the top-earning Americans has risen sharply since the 1980s but the loss of well-paying manufacturing jobs has led to stagnation for everyone else.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein and Phil Wahba; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Tim Dobbyn, Gary Hill)

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