McDonald's Hiring 50,000, Media Celebrate. But In Reagan Era, Media Dismissed 'Hamburger Flipper' Jobs

First, let me make something clear. One thing I learned in my first job as a dishwasher back in the Mesozoic Era is that all work conscientiously done can be noble. I don't criticize McDonald's for wanting to grow their business and the businesses of their franchisees, and I surely won't criticize anyone for taking a fast-food job to put food on the table or to gain an employment foothold.

That said, the people who have expressed contempt for such jobs and for an economy that for the last 30-plus years has, according to certain wrong-headed social critics, been devolving into one where the only jobs available will be low-paying, dead-end service-sector jobs have been awfully quiet in the wake of the fast-food king's announcement that it's looking to hire 50,000 workers.

An unbylined write-up at the Associated Press Monday evening comes across as more of a puffy promo than as a hard-news piece (puffery in bold):

McDonald's wants to fill 50K jobs on hiring day


McDonald's Corp. will hold its first national hiring day April 19 to fill 50,000 openings at its restaurants nationwide. The company, based in Oak Brook, Ill., says it is making a concerted effort to add staff as its business improves and as more of its restaurants stay open 24 hours a day.


McDonald's is hiring restaurant crew and management for full-time and part-time positions. ...


It is also trying to shed the negative connotation of employment at the fast-food chain, once dubbed "McJobs." About half of its franchisees and more than 75 percent of its managers started as store workers.


"A McJob is one with career growth and endless possibilities," the company said in a statement.


... Those who are interested can apply in stores or online. Some restaurants will hold events and interviews that day.

My, that's an awfully sympathetic piece, and, to an extent, good for them.

But I can't help but notice how starkly yesterday's kid-glove treatment by AP contrasts with how Business Writer Rick Gladstone at the very same wire service viewed things in December 1987 during a (naturally) Republican administration in an item headlined "New Job Growth Will Stumble in 1988":


Showing how downbeat press reports during Republican or conservative administrations are so often so very wrong, the economy during 1988 added 3.24 million seasonally adjusted jobs, up from 3.15 million in 1987. That included 282,000 goods-producing jobs.

Also during the mid-1980s:

  • At the New York Times on September 7, 1986, Barbara Ehrenreich asked "Is the Middle Class Doomed?" while claiming that, "Most of us are 'middle class,' or so we like to believe. But there are signs that America is becoming a more divided society: over the last decade, the rich have been getting richer; the poor have been getting more numerous, and those in the middle do not appear to be doing as well as they used to. If America is 'coming back,' as President Reagan reassured us in the wake of the economic malaise of the early 1980's, it may be coming back in a harsh and alien form."
  • On September 3, 1984, two months before the November elections (/surprise), CBS Evening News anchor emeritus Walter Cronkite narrated what was in the words of Steven Greenhouse at the New York Times, a "probing" and "timely" hourlong documentary called, "High Tech: Dream or Nightmare?" Greenhouse's key questions: "By destroying many high-paying factory jobs, are high-tech production techniques going to turn the United States into a nation of $50,000-a-year systems managers and $3.50-an-hour janitors and hamburger flippers? In other words, is high tech going to polarize the United States and cause its great middle class to disappear?"
  • Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, based on this August 1988 AP report, was clearly anchoring his candidacy to the idea that the economy under Reagan had generated nothing but low-paying jobs.

During research, I noticed that Rush Limbaugh also mentioned the topic of disparate media treatment yesterday.

Today, the usual class-war suspects seem to be quiet as mice. Perhaps it's because they know that this time, McDonald's large expansion really is a sign that something in the economy is fundamentally wrong, and that on the street it goes by one word: Obamanomics.

Cross-posted at

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