Facing a worrying shortage of restaurant workers in this country, burrito-king Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG 2.25%) is enacting a sweeping pay raise. The company announced that it's lifting its average hourly wage to $15, matching the minimum called for by many American labor activists.

The burrito slinger added that the pay bumps will be enacted within the next few weeks and will mean hourly pay for starting "crew members" of $11 to $18 per hour.

A Chipotle employee at work, clad in a face mask.

Image source: Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Chipotle is also rolling out referral bonuses for its employees, essentially drafting them in the effort to find fresh manpower. The restaurant-chain's workers will be eligible to receive a $200 bonus if a new crew member is hired and $750 if that incoming employee is an apprentice or general manager.

All told, aided by these sweeteners, Chipotle aims to hire 20,000 new workers throughout the U.S. this year.

The company isn't shying away from hype in its marketing push. In the press release heralding it, Chipotle claimed that "crew members can advance to a Restaurateur, the highest General Manager position, in as little as three and a half years, with average compensation of $100,000 while leading a multi-million-dollar growing business."

The company provided no estimates as to how the average pay raise, the bonuses, and the hiring push might affect its finances. We can safely assume that its restaurants, which remained durably popular during the pandemic, will see at least a return to their previous foot-traffic levels before the spread of the outbreak -- hence, the acute need for new workers.

Investors like that the company's taking such an initiative, it seems. Chipotle stock rose marginally on Tuesday, against the 0.9% slide of the S&P 500 index.