Fast-Food Restaurants Deliver Big Raises
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was definitely a serious conversation going on around minimum wage. Here’s a little history for you. In 1938, the federal minimum wage was 25 cents an hour. In 2009, it was $7.25 an hour. In 2016, California and New York passed laws to bring their minimum wage up to $15 an hour, which was a huge deal—the cost of living in the United States is extraordinary, and a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour hadn’t been cutting it for years.
Just before the pandemic really took hold in the U.S., 29 states plus Washington, D.C. elected to raise their minimum wages to be higher than the federal standard, which today still sits at $7.25. Some states went to $10/hour, some $15/hour—it truly varies, but across the board states and their voters are truly rallying for a higher federal minimum wage. According to the Economic Policy Institute, “The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour and has not been raised in over 10 years. A full-time federal minimum wage worker today earns 18% less than what her counterpart earned at the time of the last increase, after adjusting for rising costs of living ($15,080 annually in 2021 versus $18,458 in 2009).”
When the pandemic loosened up and fast-food chains were in demand again, these workers were almost considered “essential.” Employees didn’t want to return to their old jobs—not with the health risks associated with dealing with the public, or the fact that federal financial assistance was higher than their minimum wage pay. With a labor shortage and increased demand for restaurants to open, fast-food chains had to enact real change.
With profits soaring in 2021, McDonald’s was among the first of the chains to make moves. In 2021, they made a commitment that by 2024, the average pay for staff at company-owned restaurants would be $15/hour. McDonald’s is also putting pressure on their franchisees (which comprise 13,000 other locations and 800,000 employees) to do the same.
White Castle, Sheetz, and Chipotle are all also major chains to commit to a higher minimum wage for their employees. This puts pressure on their competition, too. In order to attract workers during a labor shortage, the first thing your business needs to consider is probably pay. Other fast-food chains that don’t opt to increase their staff wages could begin to lose talent to the competition. Amid a wave of protests for higher pay, what started as a conversation has turned into a full-blown nationwide change that can only gain more steam as time goes on.
Interested in the best fast-food companies to work for and why? Check out this article from Tastemade. Chains are making changes—and let’s face it. If it weren’t for a lot of these places opening back up during the pandemic, many of us (this writer included) would have gone even more stir crazy.
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