Skip to comments.McDonald's Faces Teen Labor Shortage ("fewer teenagers working period")
Posted on 07/23/2007 5:02:41 PM PDT by fight_truth_decay
A new McDonald's Corp. commercial tells the story of Karen King, who began her career as a teenage crew member in the 1970s and rose to head the company's $10-billion Eastern-U.S. division.
The spots are meant to resonate with American teenagers, who are leaving the workforce in droves and leaving McDonald's with a labor crunch that threatens to take a bite out of its surging sales.
"It's a shrinking labor market, and we recognize less people will be available to hire," Ms. King says.
The declining number of teenage job-seekers presents a super-size challenge for McDonald's, where 40% of the top 50 managers including CEO James Skinner worked their way up from the cash register or fry vat, and which more than ever needs qualified workers to keep service from bogging down in an era of computerized cash registers and electronic ovens.
"There is a direct correlation between the quality of the crew and sales restaurants do," says Steve Bigari, a former McDonald's franchisee who now works with fast-food companies on labor issues.
With the number of teenage applicants dwindling, McDonald's has rolled out a new commercial emphasizing the opportunity for advancement at the company. For more photos visit McJobsChicagoBusines.
For years, McDonald's has manned its crews largely with teenagers. In the 1990s, 45% of its U.S. employees were under 20. Today it's 33% of the workforce, which totals 650,000 employees.
GETTING HARDER OUT THERE
It's not just that fewer teenagers are working at McDonald's fewer are working, period. Last year about 44% of American teens held jobs, down from nearly 60% in 1982. The reason isn't clear, but many attribute the shift to an intensified focus on academics and after-school activities.
Whatever the explanation, the trend scares fast-food operators. "Everyone I talk to in the industry says it's becoming harder and harder to maintain their operations standards given what is happening in the workforce," Mr. Bigari says.
About half the employees in the fast-food industry are between 16 and 25 years old. The number of jobs in the industry is expected to increase about 17% in the next decade while the number of workers in that key age group is expected to increase 0.3%.
McDonald's is trying to get ahead of the coming squeeze with its aggressive new recruiting campaign, launched in May and driven by the TV ads featuring Ms. King. The company also revamped the recruiting portion of its Web site to facilitate online job applications, which are routed to franchisees, who hire the bulk of McDonald's front-line workers.
Lurking behind the recruiting drive is another reality: McDonald's could ease its labor crunch by raising wages. But that's a last resort for the franchisees. Increased payroll costs come directly out of their pockets.
Steve Russell, McDonald's U.S. senior vice-president of human resources and chief people officer, says the company doesn't feel pressure to raise wages, which vary by restaurant but average about $7.35 an hour, 26% over the current federal minimum wage of $5.85.
TOUCH SCREENS AND NEW MENUS
At the same time it expands recruiting efforts, McDonald's is trying to be more selective about its hires. About half of its stores require applicants to take a short test designed to measure their experience and behavior patterns. Mr. Russell says the number of stores utilizing the test quadrupled last year and the company continues to "rapidly deploy it."
The increased scrutiny matches the rising sophistication of fast-food jobs. Burgers are no longer flipped on a griddle but cooked in an oven operated by an electronic timer. New menu items have forced kitchen staff to master new preparation techniques and have given order-takers more buttons to locate on cash registers with touch screens easy to use but often intimidating to workers uncomfortable with technology.
Fumbles with the equipment slow down order times a big turnoff for customers looking for a quick meal. That's why it's critical to find, and keep, qualified workers. An internal McDonald's study shows stores with higher-performing crews reduce turnover by 30% and increase sales by $200,000 annually.
"Now more than ever, we realize our people are the main drivers of our business," Mr. Russell says.
This week in Las Vegas, McDonald's is holding a meeting of 15,000 managers at which employment will be a primary topic of discussion.
Industry observers say McDonald's has done more than any of its national competitors to promote employment, even while it may pay lower wages than some regional and national chains, such as coffee giant Starbucks Corp.
The effort may be paying off. Last year, according to Mr. Russell, McDonald's reduced its turnover by 9%, matching the chain's increase in sales, which hit $21.6 billion. The company won't disclose its retention rate; the industry averages about 150% annual employee turnover.
But it remains to be seen how McDonald's will replace the teenagers who continue to drop out of the workforce.
"There is not a readily available supply of teenage workers lined up at the door begging for jobs," says Joni Doolin, founder of People Report, a Texas-based company that tracks employment data. "And the problem is not going away anytime soon."
The solution is to send the tourists back home. They've had their fun. Now it's time to get outta' our face.
Mike Nifong is available.
And the other half are above 25...
I'm sure there's a growing trend that older lower skilled workers are attracted to the higher pay that McD's offers compared to other vocations.
We have a lot of undocumented tourists here as well.. and they are not teen agers working the Mc Donalds... lots look like in their 30’s or over.. career employees...
i’ve noticed less teens working for several decades in socal.
once asian immigrant families get their businesses going they want their kids on the education job all day.
generally, as people become more wealthy they don’t expect their kids to work.
as bill handel of radio kfi am 640 famously said: “my kids are not flipping burgers!”
It must of been cold inside the restaurant when they took this picture.
Well if you make 10 BILLION dollars on your Eastern-U.S. division alone maybe you should pay the help more and you might not have such a shortage !!!
I walked into a McD’s in Lower Manhattan a couple of months ago. One of my studetns was mopping in the back and spotted me. I later found out that 5 or 6 guys from my high school work there at some time during the week, and they’re all proud of that fact. A couple of them graduated last month. Good luck to them.
(BTW: I worked at Blockbuster instead).
That's half the problem, the other half is the abundance of cheap (in some people's viewpoints) companies eager to do what should be chores for a child. If you have a gardener who does your lawn care, why should a young pre-teen or teen be encouraged to get out a lawnmower and do it, vs having neighborhood teens do it in the first place, and your teen eager to get in on the racket of an extra $100 bucks a month in pocket.
Parents, go make the kids do something, else don't come back and complain when they're 25 and still living at home.
Oh PUH-LEEZE! If I would have let the bruthas intimidate me when I worked a graveyard shift job at a hotel in Chicago while in Grad School, I would have had ZERO respect for yourself.
Any moron who feels "intimidated" by the "other" squats when they pee...
Here in New York city, I use to work at Nathans after school in the mid to late `70`s and would go home with $40 a week which was like gold to me as before that I had a paper route delivering Penny Savers every Saturday which netted me a huge lump sum check of $20 at the end of the month! Wooo! To this day I remember my mother flipping out because I took my brother to a local carnival and we blew the whole $20 throwing balls at cans, shooting paper ducks just to win anything, which we eventually did which was a Rod Stewart poster even though we had no idea who Rod Stewart was.
I know for my extended family for the kids there is little point working at a place like McDonalds. They do like 4 hour shifts, paying maybe 6 dollars an hour. That is all of 24$.. then minus off transport expenses and other expenses related to work.
Its better imo to volunteer even for something related to the career they are working towards. Either a highly specialized trade or a profession depending on the aptitude and interests of the kid.
The early shortages we have seen so far though are nothing compared to what is going to happen when the baby boom retires from the good government and corporate jobs. That will open up countless good jobs for the young. Wages are going to rocket ship upwards.
Yep, you’ve nailed it. Today’s parents seem to be afraid to make their kids work. They are afraid to say no to their kids in general. They buy their kids new cars and expensive electronics without batting an eye. Lots of kids don’t even have household chores that they have to do.
As soon as I turned 15, my mom marched me down to the local Wendy’s and had me apply for a job. After working there for a year, I got a job at McD’s. There was no shame in it at all. It made us feel like we were growing up to have jobs and earn some money.
I worked since I was 16 but never in fast food. Ugly uniforms and it just had an embarrassing connotation. I worked on a buffet and washed dishes instead.
If they work 3 shifts a week, that’s $75. Not something to sneeze at. Back in my day, we made $3.05 an hour. It teaches kids the value of a dollar if they have to work for it!
So the job isn't difficult (actually less so), just a little scary! How pathetic!
Also from McD's website, "Perhaps best of all, in 2007, we were included in the Human Rights Campaign Buying for Equality guidea leading publication from a nationally known and well-respected GLBT advocacy group."
I live in Queens and noticed that in Manhattan as well. If you go up Broadway starting around Harlem, Spanish Harlem just about everyone working in the Mickey D`s are teenagers. In Queens it`s not as true as you get the adults working alongside the teens. Long Island, forget it. You will never find anyone younger than 30 in those. I have no idea why that is. I think it may be a status thing with kids.
I was about to say.
Exactly. I made $3.35 per hour at my first job when I was in high school. It felt GREAT to spend that money because it was mine and I had earned it. More importantly, though I didn't realize until much later, I learned the importance of showing up on time and generally being a dependable employee.
Daughter’s mom raised her that way, at 18 she is floundering and wont listen to sound advice from nobody; and thats one of the many reasons i got the liberating divorce at the turn of the century.
So how much would you pay that worker?
The top people in the company started at the bottom on far less and, rightly so, make far more as they advanced up the ladder.
Older workers are now better workers. I have also decided young female workers at McDonalds (other similar shops as well) are more capable than the young male worker. He forgets the straw, the order is wrong, it sits until he has to pick it up and pass it on, stares blindly at the order above, gets help...just my experience but started taking note when I go through a McDonalds. Same pattern in respect to gender. The older workers; however, seem to like their job and shows in their attitude when waiting on you. You leave with a smile on your face.
Just my experience, howver. I am funny that way in that I evaluate
service. I always figured if I owned a restaurant would go back and hire those that stood out. I stop at one “black and white cow designed” coffee drive-thru where one young lady has worked ongoing since it opened (I might go there 6 mol times a year when in the area) but she is always working, her dog is sometimes out in a small old car.
That person I would pay top dollar as she can’t be making that much, she’s always pleasant to the customers, and has been there for quite a stable period of time. Went thru over the holidays and tipped her ‘much’ more than the norm, and watched her face brighten up with gratitude. Let’s hope her boss did the same.
So my attitude is one earns their perks in life. If one just passes out the reward, before the work is done...you’re still stuck with the same “slacker” mentality.
That would simply be the Market at work.
You have noted a very important fact about much of today’s youngsters and work. Most of today’s parents overindulge their children. Many of our youngsters feel entitled and demand everything from good grades to modern day luxuries - cell phones, cars, designer clothes, etc.
The want their first homes to be starter castles with expensive cars in the garage and employment at the top of the pay chain (while they work their way down).
Prisons are full of youngsters who have never worked a day in their lives.
My grandfather told me once that “ hard work will not kill you but the fear of it might”.
"Hey lady, I told you to SUPER SIZE those fries, or do I have to repeat myself?"
The local McDonalds chased off all their American staff overnight, then replaced them with 100% Mexican employees in a town that is 97% white. A few months later the cops found out that some of them were dealing drugs through the drive-thru window and proceeded to make some arrests. Apparently the ones that weren’t dealing drugs weren’t too crazy about getting interviewed by the police either so they stopped showing up for work. Probably didn’t matter since so many locals were boycotting the place over their hiring policies anyway. So they cleaned house again, tore down the store, rebuilt and started over. Last time I went there it was a pretty even mix of kids, retirees, a few in between and different races.
Yet oddly enough, In-n-Out Burger never has trouble getting kids to work there...
I think I might see part of the problem here...
McDonald’s CEO says can’t stop ads for kids
Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:07pm ET
Thought of this story when you posted that pic.
The number of teenage Democrat registrations are dwindling too, what the MSM is really worried about. They are trying to make the case to let in more poor immigrants, i.e. natural Democrat voters.
The real solution is robotics technology and more self-service, such as poor your own soda. There will be a need for a robotics repair person but one person can manage many locations and get paid a very high wage. The Democrat politicians hate this idea because robots can not vote or be pandered to, and the robotics repairman doesn't need handouts.
1 reason why bush is favoring illegal immigration.
My kids weren't
You going to send your 17 year old daughter to work with a bunch of 40 year old men illegally in the country?
All so the McBigBucks can rake in 100 billion a year, while paying the their illegal labor 7 bucks an hour?
I wondered how long it would take for someone to post that response.
On a similar note, I notice that the approximate 5% unemployment rate matched up nicely to the supposed 5% of US workers being illegal immigrants. It came up when they were having their big day without Mexicans. I’d have to assume that the unemployment rate would go down a bit if there were less illegals taking jobs.
My company hires kids for $9.50 an hour during school breaks. I made sure my oldest son got one of the hardest jobs in the plant just so he wouldn’t get any dumb ideas about staying long term instead of going on to college.
If wages were too low, people wouldn’t work for them. But they do, so that PROVES the wages are reasonable. Sure, they could raise the wages, but why should they? The workers are still working, still willing to show up on time, and it keeps costs lower. Were they to raise wages, they would have to FIRE more workers (that’s what happens when you raise wages, this is empirical fact), and the price of burgers would go up. Then people wouldn’t buy them, then McDonald’s would once again FIRE more workers because of a reduced demand, and you’d be back in the same boat, just with less people working. (stole that paragraph from http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2007-03/23/content_835150.htm cause I liked it..short and sweet)
Still the POWER LINES in the story above are : FEWER TEENAGERS ARE WORKING PERIOD!!! DING DING DING DING!
I was 19 and the store stock-clerk at 50 cents an hour.
That's why McBigBucks put pictures on their registers so the Non-English speaking illegals could run the registers.
Who would send their 17 year old daughter to work with a bunch of 40 year old men illegally in the country? Or even their 16 year old boy for that matter.
The last time my wife went to a McBigBucks they gave my wife the wrong order twice! They couldn't even punch the right picture on the register. She told me the person helping her spoke about 4 words of English.
No more! That's it!
I'll give McDonald's credit. They aren't begging for illegals, they recognize the value of a quality workforce, and they are looking for positive solutions to the problem.
Ted Nugent: Cultivating work ethic is vital for children, for America
Absolutely. We as Americans can work this out if we work together.
McDonalds has identified the problem, which is an increased emphasis on academics and after school programs. So instead of seeing it as a problem, they should embrace it as an opportunity.
For example, one of the biggest practical problems facing academically minded teenagers today is how to pay for college.
But imagine if McDonalds created an aggressive growth mutual fund for employees. In that way, the franchises would still pay about the same wage for work right then, but those who stayed with the corporation for some years would start to get ballooning benefits, at no extra cost to the franchise.
Using the corporations liquidity, they could get some killer yields from such a fund.
That would mean that while the franchise would continue to pay the typical wage, their take home pay would include the dividends from the fund, or it could be used as reinvestment.
While teenagers might like to spend their paycheck now, if they could get their paycheck, plus say 15% compounded interest later, it might be well worth their while to have their pay deferred.
And McDonalds might come up with a bunch of other low cost, for them, ways of providing their employees even more money if it was set aside for tuition.
The end result being that employees who began at the minimum age of 16 (in the US), could have about 2 years work to build up a substantial offset to their college expenses. And if they continued to work at McDonalds through college, at 4 and 6 years employment, there might even be enough incentive for them to continue with the corporation as a career.
If that was the case, it would be very much to the advantage of McDonalds to offer continued support through selected post-graduate degrees, such as in business and accounting.
And for those who weren’t on the academic track, such a mutual fund would still boost their paycheck to much more than the minimum wage, but without stressing the franchises.
How loyal would their employees be if they were getting 50% more than minimum wage, far more than any comparable job would pay? It would start to drain employees from other restaurant chains.
At times, there can be no socially accepted comment.
The minimum wage is recalculated yearly based on a cost-of-living adjustment for workers age 16 and older.
14- and 15-year-olds may be paid 85 percent of the minimum wage ($7.93 x 85% = $6.74/hour).
“(BTW: I worked at Blockbuster instead).”
I’ll assume you were one of the few who know how to alphabetize the titles... :)