Fast Food Hiring Binge a Sign of Recovery?

By Varney and Co

McDonald’s announced it will hold a hiring event in nearly 600 of their restaurants across three states today. The fast food giant hopes to hire as many as 1000 employees during this day-long event. Is this a sign that the economy is back on track? Mary Jo Larson, Publisher and Vice President of Franchise Times magazine doesn’t think so.

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“I think McDonald’s is not a bellwether,” Larson explained. “They have just been performing so well over the last couple of years. Even during 2009 and 2008, they have just been firing on all cylinders, so I don’t really think that watching McDonald’s is a bellwether for the rest of the economy.”

Larson thinks that a real sign that the economy is improving will be when we see some of the other chain restaurants start following McDonald’s success. “We’ve had a lot of trouble with Burger King and some of the other [restaurants] lagging behind,” she said. “When some of those start to get to where McDonald’s is, then I think that that will be the bellwether. Restaurants are really the first out of a recession, but they’re not there yet.”

What’s the first sign that the restaurant industry is coming back? “I think you’ll see same-store sales at restaurants increasing at a better clip, and that’s going to be what you’ll see that will show you that the restaurant industry in itself is doing better,” said Larson.

The recovery is on the way, but we’re not quite there yet, explained Larson. “The consumer is still not ready to spend a lot of their discretionary income on restaurants quite yet. We’re not quite there yet.”