‘Overwhelming’ number turn out for 800 McJobs

By Alejandra Cancino
Posted today at 1:01 p.m.

Thousands of Chicagoans flooded McDonald’s stores Tuesday, hoping to land one of 800 local McJobs.

The hiring day culminated a weeks-long advertising and public-relations campaign for the burger giant’s plans to hire 50,000 store-level employees nationwide.

But despite the weeks of preparations, store managers across the city said  they were overwhelmed by the number of applicants.

“I had 1,000 people and a line out the door,” said Norman Polk, a manager at a restaurant in the city’s Wrightwood neighborhood.

Polk said some job-seekers at his store had been at another store when a fight broke out and the restaurant shut its doors.

The flood of job hunters reflects the 347,000 unemployed people in the Chicago area. Nationwide, there are about 13.5 million unemployed people, a little less than half have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more.

A manager at a restaurant in Irving Park said she was able to interview about a third of the more than 300 job applicants vying for one of her 14 job openings.

Many, she said, were desperate to land a job after being unemployed for years. One said he was living with friends in the South Side after he and his wife lost their jobs.  The Irving Park restaurant was the sixth store he had visited, she said.

A store manager in Berwyn said a man who made $28 an hour two years ago was applying for one of her five minimum-wage jobs. A woman, she said, made $20 an hour for 11 years, until she was laid off two years ago.

“She was even willing to make $8.25 an hour,” she said.

Some applicants didn’t stand on job interview ceremony, showing up in their pajamas.

“They said, this is McDonald’s. Let’s just fill the application,”  she said.

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