On April 19, McDonald’s franchises across the nation held a
National Hiring Day with the goal of hiring 50,000 workers nationwide,
including around 2000 in Northern California. Scott Rodrick is the owner of 10
McDonald’s in San Francisco. His experience on this Day sheds light  on the current state of the  economy in California, and on the role of
McDonald’s jobs in the state’s labor market.

Rodrick  grew up in a
McDonald’s family ("I have ketchup in my blood"). His father  purchased a McDonald’s franchise in Florida in
1965. Scott’s first job was in a McDonald’s. After attending Dartmouth as a
undergraduate and working for a time in finance, Scott purchased his first
McDonald’s store in 1989. At present he owns 10 of the 19 McDonald’s in San

Rodrick estimates that each of his McDonald’s employs an
average of 50 workers.  Roughly, 35 of
these workers are full-time, 15 part-time. Each store has 5-6 management staff,
with the bulk  of the line workers
cross-trained to handle kitchen duties, cash register, and maintenance.

The workers still include youth, the group that has
traditionally made up the McDonald’s workforce. Their ranks, though, have been
thinned by two other groups taking McDonald’s jobs in California. One group is
immigrant adults. The second group, especially since the Great Recession, is
experienced workers, who have lost jobs and seen other options disappear.

For National Hiring Day, Rodrick designated two of his McDonald’s
to be the interview venues. "I was astounded by the turnout of job seekers, "
Rodrick notes. "Before opening, we had long lines of job seekers on the
sidewalk, and the job seekers kept coming throughout the day. In all, we
probably received 350-400 applications in the one day. In my twenty years of
owning McDonald’s I’ve never seen anything like this." From this pool of
applications, he expects to hire 30-35 new workers.

Mike Sugerman of Channel 5 in the Bay Area did a fine
overview of the hiring process, with worker interviews, for the evening news (click
here for video
). Sugerman’s story captures the range of workers coming to
be interviewed, including a woman in her early fifties and a younger man in his

I make a cameo appearance in the story, noting the roles
that McDonald’s jobs have played in the California labor market. For decades,
McDonald’s jobs have been held mainly by youth. Some of these youth have
advanced into management positions at McDonald’s franchises or corporate
McDonald’s. For a greater number  of
youth, these jobs have provided work experience and customer skills that have
proved useful in subsequent jobs outside of McDonald’s.

Study after study by the local Workforce Investment Boards
in California have reached the same conclusion regarding hiring. For a great
number of jobs in California, employers are not looking for specific vocational
skills. Rather they are looking for literacy skills and for work orientation
skills-skills of teamwork, customer service, coming to work on time. These are
precisely the skills taught by McDonald’s, and why the McDonald’s jobs have
proved to be an effective training for many California youth.

While the economy will continue to mean more adults working
at McDonald’s, it will be unfortunate if McDonald’s gets too far away from this
important California labor market role.