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Why PepsiCo is hiring 6,000 full-time US workers during the coronavirus pandemic

Brian Sozzi
Editor-at-Large

It may seem counterintuitive to watch big companies stepping up and hiring thousands of people as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc on consumer demand in the United States.

But the numbers of companies opening their checkbooks is growing, in large part because it has to if critical business such as bringing food to supermarkets and delivering fast-food to homes is to be done during increasing quarantine situations. One of the latest mass hiring announcements comes from food and beverage giant PepsiCo (PEP).

The company said it will hire 6,000 full-time, full benefit workers across the U.S. in coming months. That adds to PepsiCo’s 90,000 strong workforce supporting its North American food and beverage businesses.

“It [the hirings] will take pressure off the system and help relieve some of the much needed work that these individuals on the front-lines of our business are doing,” explained PepsiCo North American Foods CEO Steven Williams on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade. Williams also sought to reassure the public on food availability amid an explosion of photos on social media showing empty shelves of steak, chicken and pasta.

“The U.S. food chain is incredible — there is no shortage of supply in most food categories. Our sites are running 24/7,” Williams, a 23-year veteran of PepsiCo, said.

PepsiCo isn’t alone in the hiring push.

(Photo by Will Lester/MediaNews Group/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via Getty Images)

Picking up the slack

Papa John’s said Monday it’s looking to hire 20,000 workers as its business experiences a pick-up with people ordering from home and sit-down eateries closed by state governments.

“The industry is changing dramatically right now, where a lot of my peers that run dine-in restaurants are being asked to close their dining rooms and I feel really bad for them from a business standpoint. But from a community standpoint I feel it’s our responsibility that has more of a delivery model to pick up the slack and make sure the communities we live and work in have the food they need to get through this situation,” Papa John’s CEO Rob Lynch said on The First Trade days before the hiring news became public.

Papa John’s rival Domino’s Pizza is hiring 10,000 extra workers.

Meanwhile, CVS Health is looking to add 50,000 full-time and part-time workers to meed an influx of those sickened by coronavirus.

Despite the hirings, the U.S. jobs market is expected to take a severe hit in coming months from coronavirus aftershocks. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard issued one of the more dire forecasts yet, predicting the U.S. jobless rate may soar to 30%.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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