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Chipotle in Mass Hiring Mode

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) hopes to recruit 19,000 new employees to make its burritos and bowls this spring, the company said Wednesday.

The company’s hiring target suggests it’s expecting an even busier spring than usual, despite another round of menu price hikes in October. The chain’s recruitment goal is about 27% higher than a year ago, when it sought 15,000 new workers for its so-called burrito season in March through May.

For Chipotle, having enough workers becomes even more important during its busy period. The chain needs plenty of employees to meet higher demand. The spring weather lures back Chipotle customers who stayed away during the winter months, but the chain’s concentration in college towns means sales usually slow in the summer.

Chipotle has more than 110,00 workers currently.

Attracting workers has become more difficult for the restaurant industry in recent years, largely due to the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of restaurant jobs disappeared as bars and eateries shuttered, either temporarily or permanently. Industry veterans switched to white-collar or warehouse jobs, seeking safety from COVID-19, better working conditions or both. In September, the restaurant workforce finally bounced back to pre-pandemic levels, according to Department of Labor data.

Chipotle on Wednesday also touted new benefits that aim to help those younger workers tackle financial challenges. The company will match up to 4% of eligible employees’ salaries by making contributions to their 401(k) if they make student loan payments.

CMG shares vaulted $9.82 to $2,331.64.