Fast Food Workers Strike for a Higher Minimum Wage
Fast food workers in at least 60 cities across the country went on strike today in order to demand a living wage.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) notes that the median wage for fast food workers at chains like KFC, McDonald’s, and Taco Bell is just $8.94 per hour.
Meanwhile, the industry is raking in $200 BILLION a year in profits and CEOs are literally making thousands of dollars per hour:
Yet while top executives at food corporations like McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Olive Garden and Red Lobster make an average of $9.4 million per year, or $4,517 per hour, a full-time worker on minimum wage earns $15,080 per year — less than those execs pull down in four hours. And while the industry takes in $200 billion a year, many of its workers rely on taxpayer-subsidized food stamps and Medicaid to get by.
Here are some fast facts about the minimum wage — and why it’s time to raise it.
Raising the Minimum Wage Would Boost the Economy
When the minimum wage is increased for workers, the entire economy benefits. Increasing the minimum wage would put money in the pocket of workers, who are likely to spend the money immediately on things like housing, food, and gas. This boost in demand for goods and services helps stimulate the economy. The money gets funneled back to employers who would need to hire more staff to keep up with the demand.
Millions of Americans Would Benefit From Increasing the Minimum Wage
Millions of workers would benefit from raising the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage would not just help those who earn the minimum wage. Workers earning near the new minimum wage would also see an indirect increase due to what economists call a spillover effect.
Women would benefit tremendously from raising the minimum wage. Most minimum wage workers are women—in 2012, over 64% of minimum-wage workers were women.
Wages Have Not Kept Up With Increased Productivity or Inflation
Over the past few decades, worker productivity in the U.S. has risen dramatically, but the average American worker is not reaping the benefits. Instead, wages have grown at a tepid pace, and workers are getting a smaller and smaller piece of the pie.
Wages are not keeping pace with increased productivity. From 1968 to 2012, worker productivity rose 124%. If the minimum wage kept up with increases in worker productivity, the minimum wage would be close to $22 an hour.
The minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation. Back in 1968, the federal minimum wage was $1.60 an hour. If the minimum wage kept up with inflation, it would be $10.74 today. Today’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is 31% lower than the value of the minimum wage in 1968.
Although the average workers’ wages have remained stagnant, the pay for those at the top has skyrocketed.
CEOs make 273 times more than average workers do. In 1965, CEOs made 20.1 times the pay of the average worker. By 2012, that ratio was more than 10 times larger: CEOs made 273 times the pay of the average worker in 2012.
The 1% is getting richer and richer. Between 1979 and 2007, the richest top 1% of American households saw their income rise by 281%, or an increase of more than $973,000 per household. Meanwhile, the poorest Americans saw an increase in their income of only 16%, or $2,400.
Raising the Minimum Wage is a Winning Issue
Raising the minimum wage, which nearly three in four Americans supports, is also “a political goldmine” for Democrats:
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an issue that was hugely popular with the public, fit perfectly into the progressive agenda, appealed to the white working class, and split the Republican Party right in half? Sounds to be good to be true, right? Actually, it’s hiding in plain sight: raising the minimum wage.
BOTTOM LINE: One demand of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which happened 50 years ago yesterday, was “a national minimum wage act that will give all Americans a decent standard of living.” As we reflect on the legacy of Dr. King, our increasingly economically unequal society, and the plight of low-wage workers, it’s clear that it’s way past time to raise the minimum wage.