McDonald's Hired More than All of the Rest of the Economy Combined Without McDonald's Hiring Binge, America Would Have Lost Jobs Last Month McDonald's Hired More than All of the Rest of the Economy Combined Without McDonald's Hiring Binge, America Would Have Lost Jobs Last Month
The GOOD Life

McDonald's Hired More than All of the Rest of the Economy Combined Without McDonald's Hiring Binge, America Would Have Lost Jobs Last Month

by Alex Goldmark

June 5, 2011


The only thing keeping America from nationwide job losses last month were the Golden Arches. Contrary to popular belief, McDonald's April hiring binge wasn't counted in the government;s April employment report. Those 62,000 McJobs "created" in the one day HR/publicity stunt are the only reason that America didn't flat out lose jobs according to May's report.

The numbers out today: the U.S. economy created 54,000 jobs, about half what was expected. Unemployment ticked up to 9.1 percent. This bucks a three month trend were the economy created about 220,000 jobs each month, on average. 

This is a sharp slowdown, a blow to President Obama, startling, pretty awful, depending on who breaks the bad news to you. 

But it gets worse. Keep this in mind: Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment reports don't actually measure all employment over the course of 30 days. They measure all the employees on company payrolls on one given day, usually the 12th of the month. So the May figure really compares how many people were getting pay checks on May 12th to how many got checks on the payroll that covered April 12th, and all other 12ths before that.

McDonald's much heralded hiring day—and subsequent riots—was April 19th, when the company planned to hire 50,000 jobs in one fell swoop, but were overwhelmed by so many applicants they actually overshot the goal and signed up 62,000 McWorkers. So, those McJobs weren't captured in the April jobs numbers, which were actually pretty good. The McDonald's hires are captured in the May report.  

That makes today's numbers all the more depressing. McDonald's hired more people than the rest of America combined. If it weren't for the country's largest restaurant chain going on a burger flipper binge, the reports wouldn't say "sharp slowdown" they'd say "reversal" or "devastating." 

The White House is keeping a stiff upper lip. Austin Goolsbee, of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said, "There are always bumps on the road to recovery, but the overall trajectory of the economy has improved dramatically over the past two years." Adding, "Therefore, as the administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report."

And, before I leave you, consider this somewhat related fact: private employers—including McDonald's—actually hired 84,000 people in May. Local governments cut 28,000 jobs, 18,000 of those in education. You can't have government cutbacks without some job loss. 

Image: (cc) by Flickr user Luis Anzo

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McDonald's Hired More than All of the Rest of the Economy Combined Without McDonald's Hiring Binge, America Would Have Lost Jobs Last Month