By Lisa Baertlein
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - McDonald's Corp announced on Thursday a 10% average hourly pay raise at the nearly 660 U.S. restaurants it operates, joining the industry's scramble to lure workers back into kitchens and dining rooms as pandemic restrictions ease.
The wage increases do not apply to employees at the roughly 13,025 U.S. McDonald's restaurants owned and operated by franchisees.
McDonald's said the pay hikes for more than 36,500 hourly restaurant workers had already begun and would continue over several weeks. Under the new pay scale, entry-level crew will make at least $11 to 17 per hour, and shift managers will earn at least $15 to $20 an hour.
The company, which wants to hire 10,000 more hourly employees over the next three months, expects average pay at all company-owned restaurants to hit $15 per hour by 2024, up from about $13.
"We are rewarding our hardworking employees in McDonald-owned restaurants for serving our communities," Joe Erlinger, McDonald's USA president, said in a statement.
Restaurants shed millions of workers after the pandemic forced many dining establishments to close or severely curtail service.
Some of those employees shifted to warehouse or retail work. Others depend on government payments ranging from stimulus checks to enhanced unemployment benefits - in some cases reaping more than they could earn working full-time at a restaurant.
McDonald's joins Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc, Taco Bell and other chains in sweetening compensation to lure applicants.
Burrito chain Chipotle said on Monday it plans to hire 20,000 more employees and will raise the average hourly wage to $15 by the end of June, an increase of $2.
(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Cooney)