A pedestrian walks by a “now hiring” sign at a KFC restaurant in San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

KFC on Wednesday announced it is looking to hire 20,000 workers as the restaurant industry struggles to find enough labor to meet returning demand.

The Yum Brands chain and its franchisees are seeking to fill part-time and full-time positions nationwide. Roles include cooks, restaurant management, customer service, shift supervisors and assistant managers.

Fast-food chains typically hire tens of thousands of workers in time for the summer months, which are among the busiest for the sector. This year, the hiring announcements arrive as restaurants report a shortage of willing workers. The labor crunch is felt further up the supply chain as well, putting pressure on ingredients like chickens. Consumers, on the other hand, are returning to eateries, eager to spend their extra cash from government coronavirus stimulus checks as states reopen their economies. KFC, for example, reported 14% U.S. same-store sales growth for the first quarter.

Some restaurants and franchisees are offering bonuses for showing up to the interview or sticking around for more than 90 days. McDonald’s executives said that its company-owned restaurants aren’t feeling the crunch yet, but they’re considering increasing wages or benefits for those restaurants just in case it becomes a problem in the near future.

Overall, unemployment remains elevated compared with pre-pandemic levels. The March unemployment rate was 6%, according to the Department of Labor. Restaurant operators have placed the blame for the labor crunch on higher unemployment benefits, but out-of-work restaurant staff say that their wages and tips aren’t enough to make up for the risk of catching of Covid-19.