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Chipotle hikes average wage to $15 an hour amid labor squeeze

Chipotle bumps average wage to $15 an hour
Chipotle bumps average wage to $15 an hour 00:27

Chipotle Mexican Grill is hiking its average hourly pay to $15 as it vies for workers in an increasingly tight U.S. labor market.

The Mexican-themed food chain said Monday it would offer a starting wage of $11 to $18 an hour by the end of June. That's a starting wage increase of approximately $2 an hour, the company stated in an email, with the average wage at the chain's thousands of U.S. restaurants rising to $15 an hour.

As COVID-19 restrictions have faded, some employers have reported difficulty finding workers for open jobs, particularly in lower-paying frontline sectors, such as food service and retail. The need to take care of children or supervise remote schooling is keeping many workers, especially women, on the sidelines, according to experts.

The Labor Department on Friday reported disappointing job growth in April, with a jobless rate of just over 6% — an indication that employers are having a tough time hiring. 

Still, available workers appear to be in shorter supply than the unemployment rate suggests, "likely reflecting the impact of unusually generous unemployment benefits and lingering virus-related impediments to working," Goldman Sachs analyst Jan Hatzius, Alec Phillips and David Mericle wrote in a research note Sunday. 

The federal minimum wage has stayed at $7.25 an hour for more than a decade, but large employers have been hiking pay for low-wage workers in recent years amid the Fight for $15 campaign that began with protests by fast-food workers in 2012. 

Chipotle is planning a virtual career fair on messaging app Discord on Thursday as it looks to fill slots at about 200 restaurants it intends to open across the country this year. It's also offering employee-referral bonuses of $200 to $750, Chipotle said.

Based in Newport Beach, California, Chipotle operates more than 2,800 eateries in the U.S., Canada, the U.K, France and Germany, and employs more than 97,000 people. 

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