Why do the posts on Facebook disapproving of minimum wage hikes always involve the fast food worker versus the military personnel? Having myself been on the receiving end of both paychecks I can tell you with absolute certainty, there is no business comparing these two particular jobs. Since it keeps recirculating, I wanted to dig a little deeper into the matter.
Typically, the fast food industry is home to teenagers. Demanding very little of a teen, these flexible hours provide opportunities for spending cash to make purchases on items like the movies, music, dates, and gas for their first car. The flexibility these jobs provide allows them opportunities to remain involved in extracurricular activities. However, when these posts go public, they do not involve teenagers but point to immigrants and single moms creating emotionally charged responses.
I do not possess a pie chart breaking down what percentage of teens vs. adults of any sub cultured grouping of your choice work in the industry. After googling for roughly three seconds, I did run across an article in “The Atlantic” written by Jordan Weissmann (Weissmann, 2013) who used a census John Schmitt and Janelle Jones from the Center for Economics and Policy Research as a source. If you are curious, Weissmann has stated this is a very liberal source. Therefore, from my point of view this should go well for the adult minority grouping in favor of wage increases.
As you see here in Table 1 nearly 61% are 16-24 years of age, high school, and college years. Table 2 shows genders are roughly equal, not sure why I care but in case anyone would try and spin gender equality issues, it’s close enough. In the words from Frozen, “let it go.”
Let us look at the race disparity in table 2. Nearly 60% white. This did not add up how I thought it would since the argument is we are keeping Latinos disadvantaged. Well then maybe it will show a disproportionate amount of immigrants working there. Americans 88% Foreigners 12%. Nope.
In a sense then, we need to raise the minimum wage for fast food workers because the white, American born, 16-24 year old cannot afford their iPhone, laptops, cable bills, iTunes, overpriced car with high car insurance, and date nights or college binge drinking? To do what exactly? Flip burger, take an order, and mop a floor?
Is it hard work? Yes. Absolutely.
Does it require schooling or skill? No.
If you can make your own meal, clean up after yourself at home, and communicate with another human you have the skill set required. Will everyone be good at it? No. I was fired from every fast food job in town and it forced me to grow up.
The military is another avenue where young adults shortly after graduating high school or college end up. There is more required than cooking and mopping involved in a military life. It cannot be understood by anyone outside this sub culture. There is no reason to compare these or argue this point because it is a simple fact. Yes, it is a choice to join but so is anyone’s choice of employment. For the sake of curiosity, a newbie enlisted service member makes $16,262 – $21,603. These numbers do not relate to civilian wages in any way. Now that you think you know the pay scale let me add you cannot fathom the fluctuations that are factored in; there are many financial variables in our sub culture.
So what is comparable I wondered and how would a raise hike affect the comparable job employees? This is the real question that no one talks about because it does not provoke the patriotic or Anti- American emotional outbursts.
If society raises the fast food industries minimum wage what happens to this income? At $10.00/ hour with 40 hours/ week, they pull in $1,600/ month before Uncle Sam takes a visit. At $15.00/ hour with 40 hours/week, they will pull in $2,400. This increase bumps the yearly salary from $19,200 to $28,800. The numbers add up over a year.
Here is where I want to take this discussion.
If the fast food industry, mostly manned by white high school kids get bumped up to $15/ hour to pay for their drunk fest and next apple device, who will be paid less than your neighborhood Taco Bell cashier?
I took a little time to peruse the Salary.com website (Salary.com). Looking under entry level jobs with little to no education to represent the same field of people in the fast food industry I checked out the median salaries. Here are some median salaries I found, but not limited to:
Claims Processing Clerk – $26,890.
A line Cook- $22,686.
Operations Clerk- $24,062.
Stock loan clerk- $28,465.
Nursing Home Aide- $24,296.
Bicycle Repairer -$22,488.
Bus driver – 19,673.
Cooking Assistant – $25,933.
Deli Counter clerk – $27,303.
Forest Aide – $23,543.
Human Services Provider- $24,834.
Glass Cutter Finisher – $25,411.
Janitor – $25,645.
Laundry and Dry-cleaning Machine Operator – $21,335.
Mail Clerk -$27,671.
Nursing Assistant – 26,478.
Safe Deposit Clerk- $27,916.
This is the real story.
What will the next outcry be when a taco wrapper makes more than these other employees do with families and bills? Will we need to up their salaries to be proportionate to skill level? Will there be another outcry when the Arby’s Drive thru cashier is not making as much again? How long can our economy take a tit for tat wage hike attempting to determine the living wage versus wages for job skills?
When is enough, enough? When machines replace the people in many of these jobs?
If you have not noticed, fast food restaurants are replacing cashiers with order machines already. Do you think it is cheaper to pay a person or have a machine take the order? With the rise in salary up over 10,000/year in this minimum wage hike scenario, along with higher taxes and health care, I guarantee the machine is cheaper.
Are people worth a living wage? Yes, but are square footage, technology devices, cable channels, and junk food included? These are not necessities.
I think our society has waned too far from the importance of family and community. Are we so wrapped up in following the propaganda of commercials we believe the next iSomething is necessary? That our next car must have touch screen, TV’s, massage chairs, tables, moon roofs, iPod plugs at every seat, and secret compartments? What happened to when we just kicked the tires? If we needed any of this then our nation would not be bleeding out financially individually and as a nation, fighting one another. We would not need to rely on our government to provide for people but doing what we were intended to do, care for one another. Are we not called to be the church?
Yes, it would be hard to raise a child as a single parent at a fast food restaurant. However, there were choices made that set this path in motion. We are not entitled to anything based on our own poor choices. What if a significant increase in wages creates jobs lost in a downturned economy already? Would you wish for your $10/hour job back verses a $0/hour no job? Alternatively, will we just turn to the bankrupt government to pay for our living costs with HUD, Food Stamps, and unemployment wages?
These are all very complicated entwined questions. Raising minimum wages cannot be about emotionally charges posts on FB dividing our people to a point we can no longer discuss important issues. Nothing is simple anymore. We need to start looking inside ourselves and questioning our own motives. When did our society turn from inspired dreamers and inventors to spoiled entitled followers? Truth hurts but we as a society need to face truth and find a way to have honest discussion and leave emotion aside. Our nation has big problems and the government is very skilled in pulling the wool over our eyes and distracting us from the important items. I do not know what the answers are. What I do know is we need to start talking and stop dividing.
(n.d.). Retrieved from Salary.com: http://www.salary.com/
Weissmann, J. (2013, August 6). More Than a Quarter of Fast-Food Workers Are Raising a Child. Retrieved from The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/08/more-than-a-quarter