Many restaurants are trying to find new ways to attract and keep employees in a struggling food-service labor industry, and Chipotle Mexican Grill is no different. To combat the tightening labor market, the company plans to boost its workforce in September by hiring 4,000 new employees, the Wall Street Journal reported late Sunday.

Chipotle’s planned Sept. 9 hiring surge will increase its workforce of 59,000 employees by 7 percent. The chain is set to open its stores three hours before the normal 11 a.m. opening time that day to interview prospective hires, and plans to promote the event on social media websites and Pandora, the online music streaming service.

To entice new workers, Chipotle recently posted videos on its website explaining how hourly workers can become “apprentices,” earning $53,000 a year, or “restaurateurs,” a management position that pays $133,000 annually.

The number of available restaurant workers isn’t as high as it was years ago amid a stronger economy and a series of increases in the minimum wage across the country. Some restaurant chains, such as McDonald’s and the Cheesecake Factory, have raised wages to attract and keep workers. McDonald’s has also said it would pay for employees to earn high school equivalency degrees and take college courses, and Starbucks has implemented a plan to reimburse employees who enroll in an online bachelor’s degree program.

“The economy has been thawing, more restaurants are opening, and there are fewer job applicants than there were several years ago,” Monty Moran, Chipotle's co-chief executive, told the Journal.

Chipotle plans to open about 200 new restaurants this year, which some of the new hires will staff. Most of the new hires, however, will fill open positions at existing restaurants.




The chain pays a little over $10 an hour to new employees, but some have claimed they were not paid for working overtime, which has resulted in at least nine lawsuits, the Journal reported. Chipotle has denied not paying overtime wages, and lawyers have said these types of lawsuits are common in the restaurant industry.