Fast food restaurants can’t find teenagers to work for them

A quarter-century ago, there were 56 teenagers within the labor force for every “limited service” restaurant — which is usually, the kind where you order at the counter.

Today, there are fewer than half as many, which is usually a reflection both of teenagers’ decreasing work force participation along with of the explosive growth in restaurants.

yet in an industry where cheap labor is usually an essential component in providing inexpensive food, a shortage of workers is usually changing the equation upon which fast-food places have long relied. This particular can be seen in rising wages, in a growth of incentives, along with within the sometimes odd situations which business owners find themselves in.

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This particular is usually why Jeffrey Kaplow, for example, spends a lot of time working behind the counter in his Subway restaurant in Lower Manhattan. This particular’s not what he pictured himself doing, yet he simply doesn’t have enough employees.

Mr. Kaplow has tried everything he can think of to find workers, placing Craigslist ads, asking some other franchisees for referrals, seeking to hire people through Subways which have closed.

Yet there he was during a recent lunchtime rush, ringing up veggie footlongs along with fountain drinks. He feared which if the line grew too long, people might get frustrated along with not come back.

“Every time there’s a huge line, the next day the store is usually nowhere near as busy,” he explained later as he straightened tables along with swept up crumbs.

Across the country, Keith Miller, another franchisee, is usually dealing with the same problem. “What employees? We don’t have them anymore,” joked Mr. Miller, who can’t find enough workers for the three Subways he owns in Northern California.

Since 2010, fast-food jobs have grown nearly twice as fast as employment over all, contributing to the economic recovery. yet rapid growth has created fresh problems. Some say restaurants have grown faster than demand, causing a glut of competition which is usually another source of pressure on business owners.

Restaurant owners are also worrying about increased immigration enforcement: Nearly 20 percent of workers are foreign-born.

With unemployment at a 17-year low, businesses everywhere are struggling to find workers. Fast food is usually feeling the pinch acutely, especially as one important source of workers has dried up. In 2000, about 45 percent of those between 16 along with 19 had a job — today This particular’s 30 percent.

“We used to get overwhelmed with the number of people wanting summer jobs,” Mr. Miller said, adding which he right now gets maybe a handful of such applications, at most. “I don’t know what teenagers do all summer.”

Gavin Poole, a 17-year-old senior at Montville Township High School in fresh Jersey, likes the idea of being his own boss — which’s one reason he created a modest business out of after-school landscaping along with handyman work. The money has helped cover his cellphone bill along with the payments on the Jeep Wrangler he leased last year. “I want to be prepared for the future, because you don’t know, financially, what situation you could be in,” he said.

A recent analysis by economists at the Bureau of Labor Statistics found which an increased emphasis on education — along with getting scholarships — had contributed to the decline in working teenagers, reflecting both the rising costs of education along with the low wages most people which age can earn.

right now, after years of benefiting through low-cost labor, many employers are starting to pay more. Fast-food wages began rising in 2014, along with have increased faster than overall wages since. yet at $10.93 an hour, the pay is usually still less than half the average for an hourly employee, pushing companies to offer more incentives — like dental insurance, sign-up bonuses along with even travel reimbursement — to entice workers.

which’s not bad news for workers like Juan Morales, who has assembled sandwiches at a Subway on Staten Island for more than 15 years.

“This particular’s much better than before,” said Mr. Morales, who earns a little more than $15 an hour. “yet for my boss, I see which This particular’s harder.”

Restaurants are notorious for churning through employees. yet people are coming along with going faster than they have in recent memory, according to data through TDn2K, a restaurant research firm. Last year, the turnover rate reached 133 percent, meaning which positions often had to be filled more than once.

which has forced business owners to adjust.

Tamra Kennedy, who owns nine Taco John’s franchises within the Midwest, began offering $100 as a bonus to fresh employees who reached 100 hours. She has began offering merit increases twice a year, along with she pays all employees more than the minimum wage.

“Hiring has been more challenging within the last two years than probably the previous 10,” Ms. Kennedy said.

About half of her stores are understaffed. So she has devised workarounds: Digital probes, not people, right now record food temperatures. She has also invested in expensive fresh registers which can produce reports which employees used to do by hand.

“I’ve never seen the industry in This particular kind of situation,” said Robert S. Goldin, a partner at the food consulting firm Pentallect. “This particular’s never been like This particular.”

Labor costs are rising, according to an estimate through Dean Haskell, a partner at National Retail Concept Partners, a restaurant along with retail consulting firm in Denver. Mr. Haskell analyzed public financial filings through 15 major chains along with determined which those companies spent about $73 million more on labor last year than the year before.

McDonald’s has announced which This particular will expand its tuition-reimbursement program, committing $150 million over a few years to tuition reimbursement for employees who work at its stores for at least 0 days. Before, the requirement was nine months.

which $150 million might seem like a lot. yet replacing workers is usually also expensive: This particular costs about $2,000 to replace the average hourly restaurant worker, according to data through TDn2K.

“Thirty years ago, I would likely not put up with the stuff I put up with today,” said John Motta, a longtime Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee in Nashua, N.H. When an employee recently missed a shift, one of his stores could serve only drive-through customers for about an hour.

“You try not to be too harsh on them,” he said, “because you’re afraid tomorrow they’re not going to show up.”

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