It’s the McEconomy, Stupid

I alluded to it in my intro post, but this is worth highlighting:

Up to 30,000 of the 54,000 jobs created in May were the result of a hiring spree by the hamburger chain, analysts at Morgan Stanley told Market Watch on Friday.

So hiring at McDonald’s accounted for about half of the nation’s job growth in May. What lessons can we draw from this? One, obviously, is that the economy is anemic and lurching toward a “double dip”—which isn’t some new dessert concoction at McDonald’s. While unemployment hovers at 9 percent, job creation has slowed to a trickle—and what jobs are on offer tend to be of the burger-flipping, minimum-wage variety. As CBS Market Watch Washington Bureau Chief Steve Goldstein put it, “There’s a case to be made for the benefit of fast-food restaurant employment, but it’s obviously not the foundation for sustained economic growth.

The second lesson is that McDonald’s itself obviously sees opportunity in this crisis. It made 25,000-30,000 net hires in just one month. That’s a pretty big bet that its “dollar menus” and other cheap calorie blasts will remain popular among a cash-strapped populace having to work ever harder to stary in place. That’s good news for Mikky D’s shareholders—and bad news for public health in a nation besieged by chronic maladies caused by an excess of low-quality calories.



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  • Tom Philpott

    Tom Philpott is the food and ag correspondent for Mother Jones. He can be reached at, or on Twitter at @tomphilpott.