By Eric Johnson
CHICAGO (Reuters) - They may be mostly the kind of low-wage positions disparaged by some highly paid economists and politicians as "McJobs," but they drew a torrent of eager job-seekers on Tuesday to the world's leading hamburger chain.
Kicking off a hiring binge it insisted was no publicity stunt, McDonald's Corp said it was inundated with applications for some 50,000 newly posted jobs at its 14,000 U.S. restaurants.
"It was positively overwhelming," said one McDonald's employee in New York who asked not to be identified. "We knew national hiring day was going to be successful and prepared for lines of folks, and we were amazed by the turnout and the excitement."
Crowds of would-be burger flippers showed up to apply at one McDonald's in Newark, New Jersey, said Cheryll Forsatz, a spokeswoman for the fast-food chain in New Jersey. One-hundred applied at a store in Cincinnati, Ohio, and hundreds turned up in Tampa, Florida, company officials said.
McDonald's said the jobs on offer ranged from kitchen and cashier positions paying minimum wage of $7.25 per hour to salaried managerial posts paying up to $50,000 annually.
Spokeswoman Nicole Curtin said the jobs are not just temporary summer positions.
"The summer is certainly busy, but these are on-going, nonseasonal positions," she said.
The company used social media to help drive applicants to their website, where they could apply for the jobs.
"I think social media has played a large part in this. We are in the hundreds and hundreds of re-tweets -- all about today's effort," Curtin said.
McDonald's said it would not know until later how many applications were received, or how many were hired for entry-level jobs.
The company said some 75 percent of their restaurant managers and 40 percent of corporate employees started out as lower-level restaurant workers.
Talk-show host Jay Leno, actress Sharon Stone, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and Olympic champion Carl Lewis all worked at McDonald's before they became famous, according to the company's website.
(Writing by Greg McCune; Editing by Steve Gorman)