December 4, 2021

McDonald’s in Oregon puts up a huge banner asking ’14 and 15-year-olds’ to apply – USA TODAY

“Now Hiring 14 and 15-year-olds.” 

The call to action isn’t shy. A McDonald’s in Oregon is pushing towards a new business model: Hiring 14-year-old and 15-year-olds to help offset a shortage of workers in the COVID era. 

The fast food industry has long relied on teen workers – mainly 16-and up – but this store in Medford, Oregon, put out a large banner to advertise directly towards potential teen workers even younger. The banner is still out front of the store, store manager Ashley Fincher confirmed to USA TODAY on Wednesday morning.

Restaurant operater (owner, basically) Heather Coleman told Business Insider that staffing has never been this bad in her family’s four decades of operating McDonald’s franchises. But once management opened the floodgates to the younger teens, Coleman said she received 25 applications in two weeks. 

“There are always staffing issues, but this is unheard of,” she said. “(14-year-old and 15-year-old workers) have been a blessing in disguise. They have the drive and work ethic. They get the technology. They catch on really quickly.”

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Coleman said she’s tried everything, as fast food businesses around the country have been forced to close their lobbies and dining rooms to operate solely off their drive-thrus due to shortage of staff. 

The Oregon McDonald’s move seems to signal a growing trend around the country. 

Earlier this year, an Ohio Burger King showcased a sign in its restaurant that went viral and is strikingly similar to the Oregon McDonald’s banner. It read: “Do you have a 14- or 15-year-old? Do they need a job?? We will hire them!”

Child labor laws are different in every state, but the U.S. Department of Labor is firm with 14 being the minimum for nonagricultural jobs. Young teen workers’ hours are monitored and are specified by law, varying by state. Minors are entitled to minimum wage payment. 

The turning to young teen workers could be more of a bridge to survive an economic crisis, as many workers are staying at home to collect unemployment and meet childcare demands versus working a minimum wage job. Pandemic-related federal unemployment benefits (an extra $300 per week to those unemployed) expire in September.