There is this new, hip burger joint in Detroit metro called Moo Cluck Moo (alright, it’s a SmashBurger knock-off) which is becoming famous for paying it’s workers a minimum of $15/hr. Okay, it’s not $43/hr, but the title was to prove a point and ask a question. If you haven’t eaten at one of these new burger joints – they’re great! I mean great if you love a great burger, fries and shake and a ‘fast food’ meal bill of $50 for a family of four! BTW – the sweet potato fries at SmashBurger will be on my death row menu.
How much should a fast food worker be paid?
Is $15/hr really a living wage?
$15/hr equates to about $30,000 before taxes. Take out taxes, health insurance co-pays, etc., and for arguments sake, let’s say that $30,000 is now $22,000. $22,000 is fairly realistic, right?
So, $22,000 is about $1800 per month. Let’s break down the expenses:
Crappy Apartment – $600/month
Crappy car payment – $250/month
Crappy car gas – $200/month
Crappy car insurance – $100/month
iPhone 5 – $100/month (you know this is true!)
Crappy Apartment utilities (electric, gas, cable) – $150/month
Food (other then your fast food meals you get while working) – $300/month
That’s $1700. Let’s say we’ll leave the extra $100 for emergencies.
Is this living?
Now, let’s look at it from McDowell’s standpoint. Unlike their ‘fast food’ friends at Moo Cluck Moo – which average check for a family of four is north of $40. The average check for a family of four to eat at McDowell’s is probably closer to $25. That extra $15 per check – does a lot. It definitely makes it easier to pay $15/hr.
My point isn’t that we should be paying fast food workers more. Someone choosing a career in the Fast food arts shouldn’t expect to make a ‘living wage’, they should expect to make a wage you can’t live on. I love that Moo Cluck Moo is pushing the envelop in paying service workers and showing others that it can be done, on a small scale. Can McDowell’s do it? They could. Are you willing to pay $15-20 more per meal for your family to eat at McDowell’s? No, you’re not. You will at Moo Cluck Moo – because it’s cool and hip and good. But you can’t do that all the time. It’s not sustainable on your living wage as a teacher, or accountant. So, you sometimes have to go the cheaper route and eat at McDowell’s.
Simple economics will tell us that selling $.99 Double Cheeseburgers does not allow you to pay your hourly staff $15/hr and stay in business. Charge $5 for that Double Cheeseburger and you can now pay $15/hr wages. You will also have a drastic decrease in customers, so you’ll have to layoff most of your staff. But those who remain will certainly be happy making $15/hr!
You can’t have it Fast — Good — and Cheap. You must give up something. Want McDowell’s to pay their workers a ‘living wage’? Show them you won’t go away in droves when they double their prices. You won’t do that. If you won’t change — why should they change?
Great post. Just wondering how long the $15.00 and hour employees will be happy?
Amazing how many $10.00 employees are Happy and Productive at a place that cares and managers who have been trained.
If you won’t change — why should they change?
That’s it right there.
Here’s the thing:
If a person can’t live on $50 a week in food, he or she is doing it wrong. This leaves $100 in slack for dining out, which is 6 Moo Cluck meals. Voila – increased consumer buying power driving economic activity.
I agree that it isn’t feasible to pay fast food workers $15. The expectation has always been this is where teens cut their employment teeth and move on to better jobs after they finish school. High turnover rate and basic job skills do not equate to anything more than minimum wage. Then came the shift in the economy where ANY job came at a premium especially when unemployment benefits ran out and limitations on welfare and food stamps became much tighter. These jobs that were denigrated by adults became the saving grace when there wasn’t anything else available. To a certain extent, even with the economy turning around ever so slowly, this is still a job that people depend on to survive. I do agree that a more serious and realistic look at the minimum wage needs to happen and there has to be a compromise.