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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Frantically trying to hire workers, fast-food franchises are offering aggressive incentives to get candidates in the door.

Why it matters: Hourly workers are hard to find, just as people are starting to venture out to restaurants and take vacations that should include lots of fast food stops.

What's happening: Chains are offering higher salaries and other perks to compete for food service workers.

  • Chipotle increased its average pay to $15 an hour, and is offering career advancement opportunities to manager positions with potential six-figure salaries. A window sign at a San Francisco Chipotle (spotted by Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva) touted $20.50 an hour.
  • Wendy's is offering $100 signing bonuses, referral bonuses and same-day pay.
  • Dunkin' Donuts has posted signs on its drive-through menus offering benefits such as healthcare, flexible schedules and paid time off.
  • A McDonald's in Arlington, Va., touted $500 sign-on bonuses. At an Orlando Cuba Libre, candidates were offered $1,000 bonuses, with the option to be paid in bitcoin.

Between the lines: The desperation for workers means many food-service outfits have to loosen their hiring standards and put up with sub-par workers longer to keep the lights on.

What to watch: The high demand for food service workers this summer could provide a variety of opportunities for first-time workers who want to gain some experience — such as teenagers, who are having their best employment summer since 1953, per CBS.

Go deeper

Workers strike back

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The pace of strikes slowed when the pandemic hit. Now there are signs picket lines are bouncing back amid fresh worker angst.

  • What's new: Production has been halted at Kellogg cereal plants across America after 1,400 workers walked off the job in a bid for better benefits (and worries about job outsourcing).

COVID created an epic U.S. trade gap

Chart: Axios Visuals. Data: Census Bureau/Bureau of Economic Analysis

The details of the blockbuster fourth quarter GDP report released Thursday morning tell a vivid story of how the underpinnings of the world economy have been reshaped by the pandemic.

One example: In the arithmetic around U.S. economic output, trade acted as a more severe drag last year than it has in a generation.

Updated 58 mins ago - Technology

Pandemic gave cover to online dating scams

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Crooked Casanovas used online dating scams to steal an estimated $500 million from lonely victims last year, according to a new analysis of government fraud data by Atlas VPN, an internet security provider.

Why it matters: The isolation of the lingering pandemic provided cover to fraudulent suitors who had an excuse for not meeting up in person even as they fleeced their would-be lovers out of gift cards, money — even cryptocurrency.