A $15 Minimum Wage Would Barely Have Any Effect on Fast Food Prices

Illustration for article titled A $15 Minimum Wage Would Barely Have Any Effect on Fast Food Prices

Surprise, surprise! A new study points out that were the US to adopt a $15 minimum wage, the price of a Big Mac would rise by...*drumroll*...22 cents.


The study, from Purdue University and published in the Journal of Foodservice Business Research, shows that the average price of a Big Mac would go from $5.23 to $5.45 under a $15/hour minimum wage. It also discovered that under the tax credits available through the Affordable Care Act, offering employees health care benefits would have a “minimal effect” on prices at any fast food location with less than 25 employees.

Interestingly, you do start to see a snowball-rolling-down-a-hill effect once you go above $15. While raising the wage to $15 would only increase prices by 4.3 percent, raising it to $22 (the average hourly wage of an American private industry employee according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics) would increase prices by 25 percent. It’s thus important to remember that while $15 is well within societal reach, there are still limits here.


Allow me to take this opportunity to address everyone in the room who claimed the industry couldn’t possibly sustain such astronomically-high wages and that were the government to force private industry to adopt them, the industry would have no choice but to outsource all human jobs to robots *smug smirk*. In the interest of a fair and reasonable discussion, I will keep my reaction to this study as civil as possible. Here, then, is that response:


*cough* Ahem. Thank you, that will be all.

Image via McDonald’s.

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You know what, I’m going to copy&paste a really good post I saw on Tumblr. Not my words, but I wish they were because they are so right.

Fast food workers in NY just won a $15/hr wage.

I’m a paramedic. My job requires a broad set of skills: interpersonal, medical, and technical skills, as well as the crucial skill of performing under pressure. I often make decisions on my own, in seconds, under chaotic circumstances, that impact people’s health and lives. I make $15/hr.

And these burger flippers think they deserve as much as me?

Good for them.

Look, if any job is going to take up someone’s life, it deserves a living wage. If a job exists and you have to hire someone to do it, they deserve a living wage. End of story. There’s a lot of talk going around my workplace along the lines of, “These guys with no education and no skills think they deserve as much as us? Fuck those guys.” And elsewhere on FB: “I’m a licensed electrician, I make $13/hr, fuck these burger flippers.”

And that’s exactly what the bosses want! They want us fighting over who has the bigger pile of crumbs so we don’t realize they made off with almost the whole damn cake. Why are you angry about fast food workers making two bucks more an hour when your CEO makes four hundred TIMES what you do? It’s in the bosses’ interests to keep your anger directed downward, at the poor people who are just trying to get by, like you, rather than at the rich assholes who consume almost everything we produce and give next to nothing for it.

My company, as they’re so fond of telling us in boosterist emails, cleared 1.3 billion dollars last year. They expect guys supporting families on 26-27k/year to applaud that. And that’s to say nothing of the techs and janitors and cashiers and bed pushers who make even less than us, but are as absolutely crucial to making a hospital work as the fucking CEO or the neurosurgeons. Can they pay us more? Absolutely. But why would they? No one’s making them.

The workers in NY made them. They fought for and won a living wage. So how incredibly petty and counterproductive is it to fuss that their pile of crumbs is bigger than ours? Put that energy elsewhere. Organize. Fight. Win.