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'Now hiring 14 & 15 year olds': Oregon McDonald's appeals to teens amid labor shortage

One McDonald’s franchisee is encouraging teens to apply for jobs.
McDonald's Advertising $15 Wage In Pennsylvania
One restaurant operator called her young employees "a blessing in disguise." Ben Hasty / MediaNews Group via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Most companies tend to favor seasoned workers over inexperienced talent when they're hiring, but one Oregon McDonald's is hoping that a much younger demographic can help them fill a staffing void they've been facing for quite some time.

Throughout the pandemic, restaurants across the company have had to contend with challenging labor shortages, and one Medford, Oregon McDonald's franchisee is thinking outside the box to help drum up new hires. The restaurant recently hung a banner outside that reads "Now hiring 14 & 15 year olds" and the restaurant operator told Business Insider why she's eager to welcome teens who are just entering the workforce.

"There are always staffing issues, but this is unheard of," Coleman, whose family has operated McDonald's franchises for 40 years, said.

The restaurant operator called her young employees "a blessing in disguise" and said they're eager to prove themselves.

"They have the drive and work ethic. They get the technology. They catch on really quickly," she said.

After advertising that the restaurant is ready and willing to hire 14- and 15-year-olds, Coleman received 25 new applications in two weeks, so the banner certainly seems to be working.

However, not everyone thinks it's such a great idea. When Reddit user @hotlunchpam posted a photo of the banner on their account with the caption "Because if adults won't work for you, take advantage of some great child labor..." it definitely got social media users talking.

"I drive past this sign a couple times a week too. It angers me every time," one Reddit user wrote. Another commented, "This is dangerous. I work evenings in fast food and kids this young can be problematic. They cut themselves really bad or may be a danger to others."

Many commenters said 14-or 15-year-olds shouldn't feel pressured to work or expressed concern that they're not mature enough to handle the responsibility. Still, some folks chimed in to say that they started working at a young age and learned a lot.

"There’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever… When I was a young teenager I wanted nothing more than some extra pocket money. it’s purely the kids choice also if they’d like to work, they are also paid fair wages comparable to any adult," one wrote.

Times are tough for the service industry, and CNBC reported in August that U.S. job openings "hit a record of more than 10 million in June." At the same time, many employees, especially those in lower-paying industries, have been increasingly quitting their jobs to move onto greener pastures, leaving behind a staffing void in their wake.

As a result, restaurants like McDonald's have had to scramble to lure in new workers. In May, the company announced that it would be raising the hourly wages at company-owned restaurants nationwide by an average of 10 percent.

According to a McDonald's USA spokesperson, McDonald's owners/operators in Oregon opened more than 2,300 restaurants over the summer and continue to focus on hiring as a year-round priority.

Each restaurant is different, but many franchisees are offering pay incentives (like sign-on and referral bonuses), paid time off and backup child and elder care to keep their employees happy.