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Would you take a job at McDonald's?

McDonald's is doing a mass hiring on April 19. Are you too proud to work there?

By Karen Datko Apr 5, 2011 1:02PM

McDonald's is going on a hiring spree -- filling up to 50,000 jobs in a "National Hiring Day" on April 19. Yep, all in one day.


Which raises a basic, oft-asked question: Would you take a job at Mickey D's? Aren't you just a bit too smart, talented or proud to flip burgers for a living? "For years, people have used the term 'McJob' as derogatory slang for low-paying, dead-end work in the kitchen or behind the counter," The Wall Street Journal observes. Post continues after video.

In fact, the National Hiring Day appears to be a PR stunt since McDonald's would likely be filling that many jobs in the run-up to the summer months anyway. The all-in-one-day makes them look as if they're working hard to help out the unemployed, no? Our pal Kim Peterson at sister blog Top Stocks reported, "The Atlantic notes that the 50,000 employees McDonald's wants is equal to a quarter of the new jobs created in the entire U.S. last month."


Upgrading the image of working at McDonald's is also part of their goal.


It's not the first time McDonald's has tried to retool how people think about working under the Golden Arches. Several years ago, it unsuccessfully tried to convince the Oxford English Dictionary to change its definition of "McJob": "unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, especially one created by the expansion of the service sector."

So back to the question: Would you work there? Let's consider the possibilities:


These jobs typically pay more than minimum wage, but not much more, and a bunch of these positions are part time. Sounds good if you're a high school kid, but if you're living on your own, it's not much money. According to a new report, "a single worker needs an income of $30,012 a year -- or just above $14 an hour -- to cover basic expenses and save for retirement and emergencies," The New York Times reports.


You could try for a management job. Managers at company-owned restaurants (most are owned by franchisees) earn about $50,000 a year after five years. (Either way, you can apply online or at the store.)


There are benefits. Some store owners offer "mini-med" plans -- up to $10,000 of coverage a year for $32 a week, which won't help much if you get really sick.


Working at McDonald's has got to be tough. Maybe you don't have to be a rocket scientist to work there, but neither do the customers -- who may not even have a modicum of class. You can hear the aggravation in Joanna's McRules for customers, posted by a McDonald's employee back in 2006. Among them:

  • Don't confuse franchises! We don't Biggie size, we don't have onion rings or nachos, and no ... you may not "Have it your way."
  • If you ordered a burger without pickles and they somehow ended up there anyway ... just pick them off because that's all I'm going to do when you bring it back to me to "fix it."

In fact, the charms of working at McDonald's show up on other lists, including "25 reasons why working at McDonald's is better than being a graduate student" -- which only goes to show how bad life in grad school can be. Among them:

  • No line worker at McDonald's ever pretends that their work has more social significance than it really does. 

  • At McDonald's there is a minimum wage.
  • In a few states, McDonald's is actually required to pay you a living wage. 

You could do better. Sure, some McDonald's employees eventually move into management. Jan Fields, the president of McDonald's USA, said she started there years ago making french fries. But that kind of advancement is not available for everyone employed at the 14,000 McDonald's restaurants.


You could do worse. "Yes, any job is better than no job and for low-wage workers McDonald's does better as an employer than many," "jaredbrain" commented at The Huffington Post, and went on to say, "but if we're getting this excited about fast-food openings while millionair­es get richer and the economic divide grows, we may be past the point of claiming a middle class."


Here's the deal: If you're unemployed without benefits and there are no better jobs where you live, you should be lovin' that McDonald's application. (Believe me, I've worked in worse jobs.) For now, that may be the best you can do.


The Chicago Tribune reported:

According to a recent report from the National Employment Law Project, the U.S. lost 8.7 million jobs during the Great Recession but has recovered only 1.5 million of them since the recession officially ended in 2009. The jobs that have been added are disproportionately of the low-paying, entry-level variety.

More from MSN Money:

Apr 5, 2011 3:58PM

I worked at McDonalds from the age of 16 until I graduated high school and after getting out of the Army, another 3.5 years until I graduated from college.  Although the wages were low (minimum wage) and it wasn't the most glamorous job, it was enough to supplement my GI Bill and give me some spending cash through college and pay a few bills.  And the added benefit of providing a flexible schedule so I could get to classes made a pretty good job in my opinion.  I wouldn't recommend it to anyone looking for a career or trying to support a family but as a stop gap job or way to support yourself through school I would highly recommend working there.  Upon graduating college and interviewing with several engineering companies, I was surprised at how many potential employers actually looked at my experience working at McDonalds as a positive and heard numerous times that they felt McDonalds taught young people how to work i.e. be to work on-time, find work to do during slow periods, etc. 


"Doesn't even pay the gas for the car.." How much gas do you buy?  Even at today's crazy prices, I can fill up my truck for 60 bucks.  Surely, with 25 - 30 hours of work, you'd make more than enough to fill up the car.


I kept looking for the actual rate McDonald's pays in the article, but I didn't see it.  What is the starting rate per hour for the average worker (not manager)?


And it kills me that is says a person needs $30K a year to stay afloat.  I have had many times in my life where I had less than that coming in, and I survived.

Apr 9, 2011 10:59AM

The restaurant industry has always provided great career opportunities.  It bothers me that people believe that every job within our industry should be at a family wage.  It doesn’t work like that….anywhere.  It’s 50,000 opportunities, what you make of your opportunity is up to you.  My wife and I have worked for a large chain, we are both college graduates and now operate 13 Wendy’s with family.  We wrote a book titled Flip-N-Burgers to help dispel the negative stereotypes often associated with our industry.   There is a lot more going on than Flip-N-Burgers.  Flip-N-Burgers gives people the knowledge and tools that we have picked up in our Operations and Human Resources careers to help them fast track.  If you need a new career or are starting your career you shouldn’t overlook this opportunity.

You can find our book at Amazon.
Apr 5, 2011 3:02PM
around here people who did work there got only 30-34 hrs a week max.On adverage only about 25-30 hrs week.Doesnt even pay the gas for the car,not to mention something to live on.What a joke.
Apr 5, 2011 3:55PM
Remember Eddie Murphy's "Coming to America" ?

"...In a couple years you can work your way up to FRIES..."


Apr 5, 2011 4:57PM

Dear Someone,


There is not one standard starting rate. It varies from store to store, but is generally reported to be a little more than minimum wage. I included a link so you can look up minimum wage in your state.


Also, the $30K referred to is the amount  needed "to cover basic expenses and save for retirement and emergencies"  -- which is a standard higher than basic survival.

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