Chipotle wants to hire 15,000 more workers in time for "burrito season"

The hiring spree comes during a still-tight US labor market
Burrito time.
Burrito time.
Photo: Carlo Allegri (Reuters)
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Chipotle is on a hiring spree. But in order to attract applicants these days, the fast-casual chain is forced to launch a full-fledged advertising campaign, a sign of just how competitive the US labor market remains for hourly workers.  

In an effort to ensure that its restaurants are fully staffed between March to May, which is historically the chain’s busiest time of year, Chipotle said it will launch a campaign featuring six employees who have risen from rank-and-file to management during their tenure.

In the past, the company has claimed that in under three-and-half years a Chipotle worker can reach an average compensation of up to $100,000 as a “Restauranteur,” the outlet’s highest general manager position. It’s not clear how many workers actually make it that far.

Chipotle told Quartz that its highest volume of sales happens during the spring largely due to seasonal factors like warmer weather and increased daylight, but also because restaurants located near colleges do more business after students return from winter break. The chain employs more than 100,000 workers across the US.

Why is it so hard to find restaurant workers? 

The labor crunch in the restaurant industry has shown no signs of abating. Restaurant workers are still leaving the industry at higher rates than before the pandemic. US restaurant employment is still down 4% compared to pre-pandemic levels, raising broader questions of whether or not the restaurant industry will have to simply make it work with a smaller workforce from which to draw. Business owners, as a result, are trying to find new ways to do more with less. Enter the robots.

Chipotle and other fast-casual chains, for their part, have repeatedly raised wages in recent years to attract and retain workers. The average hourly wage of US restaurant workers rose 22% from about $14 in February 2020 to more than $17 an hour today, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The burrito chain said its own average US hourly wage is at $16 an hour, up from $15 in 2021. Like other chains, Chipotle has also added more perks, like access to mental health care and English language lessons, as well as tuition reimbursement.

Restaurant growth in contrast to tech layoffs

Chipotle is also aiming to double its footprint to 7,000 locations in North America. Efforts to expand its business contrasts with the layoffs seen in the tech, media, and finance industries.

Typically, fast-food chains can weather recessions. Chipotle’s stock is up 3.02%, outpacing the S&P 500, which is up 0.85%.