In Defense of the McJob: 5 Ways to Look at McDonald's Hiring Boom

VIDEO: McDonalds Offers 50,000 New Jobs
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As McDonald's makes its nationwide push to get 50,000 new employees to join its ranks, it is important to put the "McJob" in perspective.

We've all heard that the average McDonald's job doesn't pay much. And you're right – it doesn't offer compensation that is anywhere near the pay for salaried positions filled by college graduates or skilled workers.

The data we've seen is that the entry-level McJob probably pays a little more than minimum wage. The company and sites that track wages suggest that many of those workers hired today will be making around $8 an hour depending in which area of the country they live.

A full workweek at $8 an hour gets you about $320 before tax withholding. That's $16,000 a year if you take two weeks off during the year for vacation. It's above the poverty line for individuals this year ($11,136 according to the Census), but below the level for a four-person household ($22,314).

So why would anyone want these jobs? Let me make a case.

These Job Aren't For Skilled Workers -- If you have a college degree, your expectation of lifestyle and compensation are based on your cohort of college-educated people. If you live in the U.S. and have just a high school diploma working means making less than your college educated peers (only 29.5 percent of Americans have a bachelors degree or higher). The latest jobs report shows the median weekly wage for a person with a high school diploma is just $633 a week -- $31,650 a year. An entry-level McJob is below that level, but is certainly competitive for less educated people without specialized skills or training.

These Jobs Are Great For Some People – Retired and looking to supplement your social security check (~38 million people)? Going to college and need some beer money (~11 million fulltime college students)? Stay-at-home parent and wanting to get some fun-money for the family vacation (~5 million women and men in this situation)? A part-time job at McDonald's (or any other fast-food restaurant) might offer the convenience and flexibility you need to make that work.

McWages Can Make A Big Difference For The Average Family – If you aren't the primary breadwinner, working part-time in a McDonald's can make a big difference to your family. Assume you work 3 days a week, adding about $800 per month to the family budget. That's almost $10,000 a year in extra cash. According to government figures, that would fully fund the family spending on food ($6,372), clothing ($1,725) and pay for 60 percent of the family healthcare spending ($1,875).

There's More to It than Burger Flipping -- The McJob can get better than burger flipping. If you have previous experience or could be a manager at the restaurant, the annual salary ranges from $20,000 - $60,000. About 40 percent of the McDonald's corporate staff (including the woman who runs the entire US for the company) started as hourly workers at the restaurants. You could even end up owning the place – 50 percent of the McDonald's franchise owners were entry-level workers at the restaurants. McDonald's jobs come with all the training you'd need to get started and the restaurants typically promote from within.

In the Aggregate, 50,000 New McJobs Add to the Nation's Growth – The new McJobs added today will mean more than $500 million in new wages during the coming year (according to Dr. Dennis Tootelian, who studies business trends and policy at the Center for Small Business at California State University). These wages will result in $1.4 billion in new consumer spending according to the company. They will also add some $54 million in payroll taxes.

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