Saturday, December 13, 2014

Fast Food Myths and Wages

by Jason Surbey on December 11, 2014

A common myth is that jobs in fast food are held by teenagers, and that fast food establishments can only make it by paying the minimum wage. But the median age of fast food workers in the U.S. is about 28. These workers have responsibilities and financial costs like rent, transportation, school tuition and child care. They deserve a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, and plenty of fast food operators agree.

They know that paying higher wages means retaining employees longer which reduces turnover costs. Higher wages can also mean higher morale and better productivity. And these businesses know that higher wages means more money in people’s pockets which spurs consumer spending on the very goods and services they sell. Paying above the languishing national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour creates a win-win for these businesses.

Here are five business owners who pay above the minimum wage because they understand that doing so is good for their workers and good for the bottom line.

“Our training costs would be significantly higher if we paid lower wages and we had the kind of turnover that you typically see in a restaurant.” -Amanda Rothschild, co-owner of Charmington’s CafĂ© in Baltimore

“The number one reason we pay our team well above the minimum wage is because we believe that if we take care of the team, they will take care of our customers.” -Randy Garutti, chief executive of Shake Shack

“I think employees feel great to know that we support them and want them to have a comfortable life, and paying them a fair wage is one part of it. We want them to be happy when they come to work every day.” -Nicolas Jammet, co-owner of Sweetgreen

“I’ve always felt that if a business, including and especially my own, couldn’t afford to pay its people at least a living wage, we weren’t earning the right to be in business anyway. And when a business claims that the only way it can pay its operating expenses and stay open is by paying its people so little that they can’t pay their own basic expenses, well that business isn’t really in business anyway.” -John Pepper, founder of Boloco

“Our people work really hard and $15 impacts their lives in a very positive way. The whole notion that it’s all kids starting out and they don’t deserve to be paid much, that’s all specious. We’re paying people $15 an hour so they have a living wage, so they really care about you when you come in the store.” -Harry Moorhouse, co-founder of Moo Cluck Moo

If these businesses can pay a fair starting wage to their workers and be the better for it, then so can others. The current national minimum wage hasn’t been raised in more than five years while basic costs continue to go up. That means people are working harder and harder yet falling behind. Raising the national minimum wage to $10.10 as President Obama has called for would boost the incomes of 28 million Americans. It would mean a real lift for those who need it the most. And it would mean more consumer spending – money that can be put right back into the economy, helping fast food establishments and businesses in all sectors.

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