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Low Wages in Fast Food

July 27, 2013

colbert-mcdonaldsThere’s been a lot of discussion of McDonald’s outrageously low suggested monthly budget for its employees. Two new entries are particularly worth looking at.

First, Stephen Colbert entered the fray on Wednesday. He’s always great, but this clip was particularly good.

Second, there’s an entry at the Huffington Post by Caroline Fairchild calling into question the idea of upward mobility in the fast food industry. Based on a study by the National Employment Law Project, Fairchild notes that only 2.2 percent of the jobs in the fast food industry are managerial, professional, or technical in nature—compared to 31.1 percent of all jobs in the United States. While McDonald’s points out that 40 percent of its executives started as hourly employees, the reality is that the “front line occupations” that make up nearly 90 percent of all jobs in the fast food industry—cashiers, cooks, and so on—earn a median hourly wage of $8.94 per hour.

And the idea that workers could save up and become their own franchise owner some day is even more laughable, with most fast food chains requiring franchisees have a net worth of at least $500,000, and at least $250,000 in liquid assets. Even using McDonald’s outrageously (read: unworkable) monthly budget which has their front line employees working two jobs for a total of 71 hours per week to save $100 per month, it would take their average employee 416 years to save enough to become a franchisee—assuming they had no other need to tap into savings.

How’s that for “You can have almost anything you want as long as you plan ahead and save for it”? Colbert’s response is apropos: “You CAN have anything you want…Unless the thing you want is money.”


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