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

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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