About Minimum Wage and Today’s Strikes at Fast-Food Chains

In
a Daily Beast column yesterday
, I wrote about a labor action
planned for today in which protesters show up outside fast-food
outlets and clamor for a $15 minimum wage (the current federal
minimum wage is $7.25). Events are planned for 100 or more cities
and some
have already taken place
.

Here are some things to think about:

  • Fewer than 3 percent of all workers in the United States make
    the minimum wage. The percentage drops further if you’re talking
    about full-time employees.
  • 77 percent of minimum wage earners belong to households above
    the poverty line.
  • 51 percent of minimum wage earners are 24 years or younger. Of
    the minimum wage earners over 24, less than a quarter are below the
    poverty line and 62 percent live in households that are at or above
    150 percent of the poverty line.
  • Even economists who question whether hiking the minimum wage
    causes significant unemployment for low-skilled workers tend to
    agree that doubling wages will reduce jobs.
  • A recent New York Times story titled “Life on $7.25 an Hour”
    centered on a man who had a job paying $13 an hour and who owned a
    $500,000 house.
  • The protests are organized by groups affiliated with the
    Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and inlcude calls for
    unionizing fast-food workers along with the demand to double the
    minimum wage to $15 an hour.

As I write in
the Beast piece
, none of this is to minimize the difficulties
faced by many minimum wage earners and fast-food workers. But most
minimum wage earners are not supporting families and in fact, most
move up from the minimum wage with their first year on the job. As
important,¬†doubling wages isn’t feasible from either a
political or an economic angle. The whole program reeks of cynicism
coming from the SEIU, which has a history
of organizing workers in high-turnover, low-skilled industries

and then failing to deliver on contracts that radically improve
things for its members.


Read the full Beast story here
.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/05/all-about-todays-planned-wage-strike-at
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