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Chipotle Plans One-Day, 4,000-Worker Hiring Binge

Wall Street Journal (08/24/15) Julie Jargon

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. plans to hire 4,000 employees in a single day next month, which would expand Chipotle’s 59,000-member workforce by nearly 7%. The planned Sept. 9 hiring binge is one of the starkest examples yet of increased recruitment efforts as the restaurant industry struggles to attract and retain employees. A stronger economy, rising demand for restaurant meals, and a string of minimum-wage increases imposed by cities and states have shrunk the pool of available workers. Some competitors have responded by boosting wages and offering more perks to employees, part of what Wendy’s Co. chief financial officer Todd Penegor earlier this month called an industry “war for talent.” Chipotle, too, has beefed up benefits. It has expanded college-tuition reimbursement to all hourly workers, added paid sick days, and increased the amount of paid vacation it offers.

Average U.S. hourly wages for production and nonsupervisory employees in limited-service restaurants rose 3.3% to $9.62 an hour in June, compared with a year earlier, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. That exceeded the 2% growth for the same period in wages for similar jobs in the private sector overall, including restaurants. The number of employees in limited-service restaurant jobs rose 3.7% in June from a year earlier, outpacing the 2.5% growth in total private-sector jobs. Chipotle plans to open its nearly 1,900 restaurants three hours earlier than usual on Sept. 9, interviewing candidates until customers start walking in at 11 a.m. in each time zone.