I remember that jingle from commercials in between the Saturday morning cartoons I watched as a kid. AdAge.com ranks this 1971 campaign No. 5 on their top 100 Advertising Campaigns. “A Break” is what a million job applicants were hoping McDonald’s would give them as they battled for 62,000 new jobs at the company last month. Unfortunately, less than 7 percent of those looking for employment through the April “McJobs program were able to proclaim “I’m lovin’ it!” In Florida alone, more than 100,000 applicants competed for 4,300 positions. In Chicago, home to McDonald’s headquarters, more than 75,000 people applied for only 2,000 jobs. The majority of those looking to join the McDonald’s team couldn’t catch a break.
On May 6, the Department of Labor announced payrolls increased by 268,000 in April 2011, much higher than forecasted, and the largest increase since February 2006. Non-farm payrolls increased to 244,000; the largest increase in almost a year. On the surface, this was positive news but less so after a detailed look at the numbers. Approximately 62,000 of the new jobs, or 23 percent of those created, came from just one employer — McDonald’s. The contributions of their April hiring spree created the impression of strong job growth.
Even though politicians and pundits may claim that these payroll numbers show evidence that the economy is headed back to prosperity, the staggering number of individuals looking for work leaves many wondering what corporation will give these folks a break today. Corporations like McDonalds and Home Depot are hiring workers back to the workforce, but are these entry level positions what we need to offset the 8 million lost jobs during the last recession?
With higher gas prices causing demand destruction, a double dip in the housing markets and gridlock in Washington about our national debt, corporate America has the cash on its balance sheets to bring Americans back into the workforce and stabilize the economy. Unless companies step forward and accept this challenge, our economy may not be able to catch the break that it deserves.