A banner hung up by the staff of a McDonald’s in Oregon has caught the attention of the Internet. It is calling for the services of teenagers to apply for a job due to “staffing issues.”
As restaurants in the United States struggle to cope with labor shortages, McDonald’s in Medford, Oregon has opened up job offerings to teenagers to solve its own shortages.
Heather Coleman is the Medford McDonald’s restaurant operator. She said in her family’s forty years of operations at McDonald’s, she has never seen such a bad staffing situation.
“There are always staffing issues, but this is unheard of,” she told Business Insider. Coleman added that raising the minimum wage to $15 didn’t attract many applicants. But lowering the minimum age requirements to 14 and 15 years old managed to bring in 25 new applicants in two weeks.
Coleman believes that these young workers are “a blessing in disguise”; they have “the drive and work ethic” and are tech-savvy.
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A Burger King in Ohio has also started hiring applicants between the ages of 14 and 15; a sign on the front door targets parents.
“Do you have a 14 or 15 year old?” the sign reads. “Do they need a job?? We will hire them! Ask for an application!”
Texas Chicken chain Layne’s Chicken Fingers is also reaching out to teenagers, offering salaries of $50,000 a year.
“We’re so thin at leadership that we can’t stretch anymore to open more locations,” said Layne’s Chicken Fingers CEO Garrett Reed. “I’ve got a good crop of 16- and 17-year-olds, but I need another year or two to get them seasoned to run stores.”
Chick-fil-A restaurants are seeing their dining rooms closed down over a lack of staff. Another McDonald’s in North Carolina is forced to close, but it’s keeping the drive-thru operational.
Federal law allows teenagers with the minimum age of 14 to work in restaurants, though child labor laws vary by state. Oregon allows teenage workers to work for three hours in a school day but only 23 hours a week.
Minor workers are expected to have the same minimum wage as other workers. But during the 90 days of training, those under 20 can only receive $4.25 an hour.
While some think the increase in teenage employment may benefit the economy, McDonald’s in Medford has been criticized by people online. Many said that teenagers at this age shouldn’t stress themselves with work; critics were worried that they are not “mature enough” to do so.
“Because if adults won’t work for you, take advantage of some great child labor…” a Reddit user wrote online.
In February, several young adults filed a lawsuit against seven chocolate companies. It accused them of benefitting from child slavery in cocoa farms.
According to USA Today, the employment of teenagers seems like a desperate plan to avoid an economic crisis since many adults are choosing to stay at home and collect unemployment instead of working for minimum wage.
With federal unemployment benefits ending this weekend, many are worried about what will come next. Some economists pin the blame on the lack of child care facilities and COVID-19 fears, which are causing “unwillingness to work” and career changes during the pandemic.