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Kai Ryssdal: There was a time in my life, I was somewhat between jobs, where I figured if things didn't work out I could always get a job as the fry guy at McDonald's. The menu there is a lot busier these days. McDonald's line-up of cold frappes and fruit smoothies has bumped sales and the bottom line. And so in Arizona alone, that means maybe a thousand new jobs.
From KJZZ in Phoenix, Peter O'Dowd reports.
Peter O'Dowd: McDonald's will sponsor a one-day hiring blitz in Arizona on Sept. 8.
Area Supervisor Jerry Gehrke says the statewide effort is a first. He says each restaurant will hire anywhere between two and eight part-time workers.
Jerry Gehrke: Our history has been that we are able to promote and advance folks, so there could be more down the road for folks than just the part-time.
Those workers have smoothies to thank for their new jobs. The icy beverages debuted at the McCafe beverage bar this year. And in turn, July earnings reports showed surprising gains. The chain reported a nearly 6 percent increase in month over month sales. It's the biggest jump since April 2009.
Steve West: Even McDonald's was suffering last year, but now you're seeing them start to pick up the pace.
Steve West follows the restaurant industry for the brokerage firm Stifel Nicolaus. He says these cold drinks have been a big part of the chain's success. He says McDonald's frappes and smoothies are cheaper than similar products at places like Starbucks. And, he says the weather helped.
West: Especially the summer being as hot as it was, it really hits a little bit of a homerun with consumers there.
West says this is part of a larger effort to improve quality at McDonald's that appears to be working. In the past few years, the restaurant has started using Angus beef and brewing fancier blends of coffee. West says all these innovations have left other fast-food chains behind, even as the economy continues to falter.
In Phoenix, I'm Peter O'Dowd for Marketplace.