McDonald’s Corp. owners are adding emergency child care and other benefits, as many U.S. restaurants are struggling to hire enough workers to run their businesses.

U.S. franchisees of the burger giant aim to boost hourly pay, give workers paid time off and help cover tuition costs to draw enough workers and improve the Golden Arches’ image as an employer. McDonald’s

corporate parent said it is making a multimillion-dollar investment to back the franchisee efforts. Franchisees own 95% of the chain’s roughly 13,450 U.S. stores.

Labor has emerged as one of the biggest challenges to the U.S. economy’s post-pandemic rebound, particularly in service-heavy businesses that depend on large numbers of workers to prepare meals or make beds.

Restaurants last year made some of the largest layoffs, as COVID-19 prompted shutdowns and restrictions, and the industry now is struggling to bring back workers and find new ones. Restaurant and bar employment remains 1.3 million workers lower than since the pandemic began spreading in the U.S., while other sectors have nearly returned to full employment.

McDonald’s, one of the largest U.S. private employers with around 800,000 people working in the chain’s restaurants, is closely watched by others in the industry for its moves on pay. McDonald’s in May said it would bump up starting pay in its corporate-owned restaurants to $11 to $17 an hour and said it would keep assessing wages to be competitive.

An expanded version of this report appears on

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