Some fast-food restaurants are choosing to pay their workers something better than the minimum wage. For example, in New Hampshire, word on the street is that McDonald’s workers are earning $7.25 hourly while Boloco burrito workers earn $9.00 hourly. In some cases, this strategy seems to be working because it reduces turnover and enhances teamwork, all of which add to a more positive customer experience.
Other fast-food restaurants are considering how they might revise their pay scale. What I like about that is that they are assessing all factors involved, including the marketplace. This is a superior approach to an arbitrary imposition of a doubling of the minimum wage or a $15.00 minimum wage. The former approach has intelligent, market analysis connected to it whereas the latter has none.
Although I always advocate for paying workers the very best wages possible, the fact remains wages are forever on the expense side of the ledger. Business owners cannot just inflate wages without any regard for the bigger picture. Every penny paid in wages reduces the company’s profit margin. This is always true, but it is particularly, painfully true in the fast-food business where profit margins are razor thin.
Workers receive wages because they work for them. Wages are not handouts. I fear some value shifts over generations have resulted in a contemporary mentality of “you owe it to me” when in fact I do not.
Paying a high school student $8 an hour to flip burgers is fair. Paying an attorney $200 an hour to handle a civil lawsuit is fair. Paying workers for the value of their contribution is always fair. However, to decide arbitrarily that all fast-food workers should receive double compensation is not at all fair.
Even if we immediately double the minimum wage for all fast-food workers, does anyone really believe that extra money materializes out of thin air? Someone always pays. In this case, it would be customers paying significantly higher prices for their fast food, restaurants laying off workers to reduce their labor costs, or some combination of the two. There is no free lunch.
Granted, we all have situations and circumstances beyond our control. Nevertheless, we all have a tremendous amount of situations and circumstances that are within our control. I can choose to flip burgers forever, but I can also choose to pursue my dreams for a better future. Some of those dreams might involve going to college, starting a business, working three jobs, or relocating. The more passion and dedication I bring to my dreams, the more likely I am to achieve them, and to obtain financial reward.
Finally, let us remember that a wage is an incentive. Workers do their jobs hopefully because they enjoy them, but assuredly because they value the paycheck. The paycheck allows workers to live the lifestyle they want to live. Precisely because a wage is an incentive, people pursue training, education, apprenticeships, and entrepreneurial endeavors to enlarge that wage. Part of the indirect benefit of the lower fast-food wage is the very fact that it forces that worker to ponder whether he or she wants to remain in that wage bracket forever. In many cases, the worker opts to improve his or her skillsets to command a better wage. The fast-food wage itself is an incentive to advance to a better wage.