The McJob Won’t Save the U.S.


Much of the ill-informed public whole heartedly believe that those collecting unemployment are lazy and milking the system are absent of facts.  A complaint I’ve often heard is that “there are plenty of jobs out there” jobs like fast food burger flipper or the “McJob” as it’s universally known.  Working a McJob is an honest way to earn a paycheck despite the bad reputation. Unfortunately, the facts show otherwise.

McDonald’s hosted a hiring day on April 19, 2011 where it anticipated hiring 50,000 workers of which most are only temporary part-time positions. It works out that each McDonald’s in the United States will hire 4 or 5 workers.

Unemployed workers are in the millions and that figure can vary widely depending on who is doing the counting.  USA Today reported recently that there are 8.3 million people who were collecting unemployment benefits at the end of March.  To make matters more disappointing there are millions more that have had their unemployment benefits expire often referred to as 99ers.

The number of long term unemployed stands in the millions.  This article from September of 2010 counts 99ers at 6,927,372.  To illustrate a point lets be conservative and round up to a safe 7,000,000 because it is certainly much higher in April 2011.  If we pretend that McDonald’s hires workers that are only long term unemployed i.e. 99ers there will be 140 people per open job at McDonald’s.

If McDonald’s were to broaden their selection to include people still collecting unemployment they would have around 166 people per job opening.

If we simply add all people unable to find a job, those collecting unemployment benefits and the 99ers then the number of workers competing for a McJob jumps to 306 people per job opening.

Unfortunately not only the unemployed need a job. Not to forget the thousands of students graduating or those looking for a summer job soon. These students are looking to fill up their measly savings accounts, before rushing off  to start college or return to college, to buy school supplies like books and pay for tuition.  The 306 to 1 odds of landing a McJob are not great and yet truly the employment situation isn’t even fully represented.

We are looking at a job market that has 99ers competing with high school and college students looking to get money for college tuition over the summer.  Just look at nearly any local news story talking about the massive hiring event. High school students are competing with workers that could be their parents or grandparents for a part-time job, or in some cases basically murdering each other to get a job (honestly this is a pretty unsettling link).

Keep in mind McDonald’s hiring event only adds 7% to its work force.

Myth of the McJob

For a moment let’s pretend that the top 10 fast food restaurants by number of stores in the United States hire 4 employees per store in the United States and the impact it would have on employment.  I grabbed these store figures from here.

So again if every store hired 4 workers we’d see a bump of 364,820 workers in the United States, or in terms of unemployed people lining up around stores for jobs roughly 42 unemployed workers looking to get a McJob.  So the next time someone who smugly says, “Oh just get a job at McDonald’s, clearly you’re not even trying to get a job.” point out the numbers for them, and show them otherwise.

Until further notice we are still in The Great Recession, when we can see actual support from business leaders, and to a lessor extent the government on hiring permanent workers for career jobs we can claim to be entering The Great Recovery.