McDonald’s Corp. Holds National Hiring Day

May 9, 2011  

BEYOND THE BUBBLE

By Meredith Carlton
mcarlton@smu.edu

Juan Hernandez seems like a typical McDonald’s employee. He knows the fast paced environment of the company, interacts well with others and has memorized the regulars’ orders. However, this wasn’t always the case.

“I’m not a fast food person,” Hernandez, who works for a McDonald’s in Irving, said. “I just knew the basics, McDonald’s and the happy meal.”

Hernandez applied for a job at the fast food giant in Irving in July 2010, but within four months, he had worked his way up to a crew trainer position. Now thousands of other people may get the same shot.

McDonald’s Corp. held its first national hiring day on April 19, hoping to hire 50,000 new employees across the United States. In an effort to keep up with increased business and new menu additions that require more employees, they felt this was the perfect opportunity.

Behind the counter at McDonald's. (PHOTO BY MEREDITH CARLTON / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

“The reason we’re doing this is because we want to staff our restaurants,” Mike Ray, the director of operations for the greater Southwest and Houston regions, said. “To be able to continue to grow the business, we need great people in our restaurants.”

The Dallas/Fort-Worth area McDonald’s were hoping to hire between 1,200-1,400 new employees, officials said. Although specific numbers on the area are not yet available, Nicole Neal, McDonald’s communications manager for the Greater Southwest Region, said the region, comprised of North Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and parts of Northwest Arkansas, received more than 31,000 applications, conducted more than 23,000 interviews and hired 2,979 new managers and crew.

However, the number of hires per store would be based on each store’s staffing needs analysis, which tells owners how many employees they need to hire based on their turnover and the current number of staff members.

Ray started his employment at McDonald’s 25 years ago as a security manager for the Southeast United States and the Caribbean. Since then, he’s had the opportunity to go into an accelerated management program and ended in the position he holds today.

The McDonald’s at 8435 North Belt Line Road in Irving was just one of many McDonald’s across the country that held a special hiring day.

Hernandez, a crew trainer at the restaurant, and his black-shirted counterparts across the nation are responsible for making sure new crewmembers know the proper protocol and procedures of the restaurant. These positions are vital to McDonald’s success, teaching employees things such as how to keep the kitchen clean and deliver a fresh meal in less than 90 seconds.

As summer approaches, Hernandez and other crew trainers typically have a handful of employees to take under their wing. This usually happens at different times throughout the country, but this year things have changed because of the hiring day.

Texas has kept its unemployment rate at or below the national rate for the last few years, during the worst of the recession, and the economy appears to be slowly recovering. In March, the state’s unemployment rate was 8.1 percent, down .1 percent from February and .7 percent below the national rate. Because of this, McDonald’s jobs are believed to be beneficial to the area.

“We have such a diverse and competent work force,” Herbert Gears, mayor of Irving, said in an interview. He visited the Irving McDonalds on the national hiring day to promote the hiring and to give the restaurant an award. “We’re known for that, which is part of the reason why we’re the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country.”

However, according to Dr. Dale Boisso, SMU adjunct economics professor, unemployment is especially high for persons with less than a college education and those older (40+) who have been laid off. He believes the jobs are a double-edged sword.

“Some jobs are better than none,” he said. “However, it is unfortunate our economy seems to be generating low-skill work, regression into a service-oriented verses a manufacturing economy.”

Others believe the jobs are marketed to a certain group of people.

“Most of these jobs will go to people who are just starting in the labor force,” Dr. Nathan Balke, SMU professor of economics, said. “This is a very important time in their labor market careers.”

According to CNNMoney.com, the average salary for these 50,000 jobs is $8.30, a little above the federal minimum wage of $7.25. If all 50,000 people were hired as fulltime positions, it would put about $863 million into the hands of people that may be currently making less or, nothing at all.

“Just based on those raw numbers, that’s an additional billion dollars into the economy on an annual basis, and that’s just McDonald’s,” said Simon Mak, SMU adjunct lecturer and assoc. director of the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship.

“I anticipate that employment growth will start picking up,” Balke said. “Maybe this is a signal of what’s happening.”

Stories like Ray’s and Hernandez’s of working up the hiring ladder aren’t uncommon. Officials said 75 percent of managers and 50 percent of all owner/operators at McDonald’s started as crew members. Even Jan Fields, McDonald’s own president, started as a crewmember.

Critics have said hiring 50,000 people in one day could only mean one thing—a publicity stunt—but Jeffrey Smith, owner and operator of four Texas locations, said the sales tell it all.

“Our sales dictate that for us to be able to meet the needs of our customers, we have to hire more people.”

Although some might believe a potential job for these 50,000 people, will be just that, Hernandez knows it ends up to be more.

“Some people think I do it just because I need the money,” he said. “But I just like it.”

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