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?