Wanted: Restaurant manager. Competitive salary: $100,000.
The six-figure sum is not being offered at a haute cuisine location with culinary accolades, but rather at fast-food chain Taco Bell. In the increasingly tight U.S. labor market, the company is betting a higher salary will help it attract workers and keep them on the team.
The Yum Brands Inc.-owned chain announced Thursday that it will test the higher salary in select restaurants in the Midwest and Northeast. It will also try a new role for employees who want leadership experience but don’t want to be in the management position. Current salaries for general managers at company-owned Taco Bell restaurants are between $50,000 and $80,000, according to the company.
Workers at company-owned Taco Bell restaurants nationwide will be offered at least 24 hours of paid sick time per year, the company also announced. According to a spokesperson, Taco Bell previously offered paid sick time only to managers and is now extending that offer to all employees at company-owned restaurants who have had their jobs for at least 90 days.
It’s another example of how stubbornly low unemployment is changing the face of fast food, which for decades has been seen as the quintessential low-wage job. Restaurants including Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants Inc. and Shake Shack Inc. have recently reported that labor inflation is hurting margins.
In November, the unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, matching the lowest since 1969, while average hourly earnings climbed and exceeded projections.
Taco Bell on Thursday also announced plans to make all of its customer packaging recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025. Amid the growth of plant-based meat imitations, the chain also said it wants to continue providing vegetarian menu items for customers.