I should be an advocate for an increase in minimum wage. I grew up in a house where the sole wage-earner got minimum wage, for the majority of my life. My dad never graduated high school, and later went back to get his GED. He never got the education that would help him get a job he could advance in. But I’m not in that camp. I don’t think it would be a good idea.
1. You CAN support a family on minimum wage. My dad worked 2-3 janitorial jobs at minimum wage, my entire life. We had a good life. We didn’t eat out, we didn’t eat a lot of meat. We had to find deals. We never took a vacation. We didn’t really get an allowance. We never bought a new car. But we had a good house. We were able to buy property.
2. Although only 30% of fast food workers are teenagers, the majority (over 60%) of fast food workers are still under 24 (i.e. still in high school, college, or living with their parents). It’s a recent trend. Kids live longer with their parents. Kids used to be considered adults at 15. Marriages happened younger. Kids moved out and became independent at 18 or younger. Now, a surprising amount move out at 25.
3. The turnover rate for workers is 150%. One in eight American workers has, at one time or another, been employed by McDonalds alone. McDonalds (and fast food in general) isn’t meant to be a career. It’s a temporary job, like Walmart.
4. Raising the minimum wage makes the economy worse. Think of how many products or services you use where the people behind the counter or in the factories earn minimum wage. A LOT. All of these things will raise in price. Now, the problem with this is that rich people can afford the increase in price. Poor people can’t. You say, well, “poor people,” the ones earning minimum wage, will now be able to pay for these things, because they will have more money. Yes, but what happens to the jobless or people who work at jobs that won’t increase? It just offsets the problem, it doesn’t fix it. The money to pay minimum wage has to come from somewhere, and it’s not going to come out of rich people’s pockets, as most seem to think.
5. Fast food is unskilled labor, and has distinct implications. When workers get too expensive, machines will take over. It happened with farm workers. In India, there isn’t a minimum wage, and people still work the fields. Machines are more expensive than people, so people still have those jobs, as bad as they are. If workers get too expensive, the logical thing (for management/CEOs) will be to replace them with machines. It doesn’t take much to order and cook fast food. I envision a self-help McDonalds, where the customer presses the button to order and the food is prepared and delivered to the customer in seconds, completely run by a machine. The quality will go down, but that’s happened before.