As a customer of fast food franchises, like McDonalds, Starbucks and KFC, we look to these places for a quick, low cost solution when we are on the run or just plain hungry. Many of us, even the healthy ones, go to a fast food place at least once a day.
But what about the worker’s behind the counter who can barely afford to buy their own hamburger? Most of these people are receiving minimum wage, which varies from state to state, with the federal minimum wage rate standing at $7.25/hr. President Obama came out earlier this year calling for an increase in minimum wage to at least $9/hr to offset the cost of inflation.
Most American’s support this wage increase with 92% of Democrats, 62% Republicans and 80% Independents standing behind a minimum wage increase to $10.10 per hour, which is almost $3 higher than it is right now. If the Fair Minimum Wage Act is passed, it will raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour by 2015.
This seems fair to me and something I certainly support. Many of the fast food workers are not college educated and what for some, is a temporary work situation, and has become a full time career. America is creating lower paying jobs as the need for service workers increases and the U.S. economy picks up. Retail has never paid well, yet with hard work there has always been a path for the unskilled to make money in management.
Scott DeFife, EVP of policy and government affairs at the National Restaurant Association says, “Nine out of ten salaried workers, including owners and managers, started out as hourly workers. The fact is, only 5 % of restaurant employees earn minimum wage and those that do are predominately working part time and half are teen-agers.”
The recent strike of fast food workers, where hundreds of workers at restaurants in 50 U.S. cities waked off their jobs demanding decent pay, comes as a growing number of minimum wage workers are not teenagers, but adults trying to support their families, since the Great Recession.
Yet, it appears we have a new type of worker that needs to be acknowledged. Currently only 16% of these jobs go to teens as apposed to 25% a decade ago. It appears that the workers are also more educated than in the past with 753,000 holding a bachelor’s degree or higher according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As the debate continues, it is a fact these workers do need to make a more reasonable wage, yet $15/hr is way too high for companies to digest, especially for an entry level worker with no college education. The managers in the fast food industry do make decent money and the path to management should be promoted more at these companies as to elevate the entry level worker. I don’t think these lower paying jobs were set up to be a long-term solution.
What concerns me is that our economy will lose many of these positions if the price to keep these many unskilled laborers on is too high. Companies will figure a way not to need the additional employees, anymore. Look at CVS’s new in-store model. It has eliminated most of its workers by installing a self-check out system. I didn’t like it at first, but now find it easy.
My advice for the striking fast food workers is to be reasonable and be happy for a $10.10/hr minimum wage. By demanding $15/Hr, they are going to force companies to do business without them.
What are your thoughts?