Emaciated Paychecks: The Minimum Wage War

Thank you for working at your fast food service establishment. Would you like a raise with that? If only it were that simple to increase the wages of fast food employees. Unfortunately, reward doesn’t come that easily, as the current minimum wage debate amid fast food workers and their subsequent employers exemplifies. With the current Federal minimum wage at $7.25 per hour, and approximately 30 percent of fast food workers supporting families at home, the workforce is asking for $15 an hour and a union to protect their rights. Service with a smile is becoming more demanding and costs of living are increasing, driving workers to dire extremes and leaving companies scratching their heads.


Initially, fast food positions were mostly filled by young teens or college students who needed extra money. Nowadays, according to NBC online, more than 42 percent of restaurant and fast-food employees have at least some college education, with about 753,000 holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Furthermore, over 70 percent of this ethnically diverse workforce is the median age of 29-years-old, with women making up 55 percent of that.

The Fast Food Industry houses some of the most easily accessible jobs because they do not require a high school diploma or degree, and are frequently available. Additionally, senior citizens are rapidly accepting fast food positions in response to their continued desire for employment where higher opportunities lack. Individuals who have lost career positions are also accepting lower-paying jobs as fast food servants just to survive, though quality of life can suffer dramatically as a result.

Although millions of working Americans are literally living on emaciated paychecks, the debate over whether their wages should fatten to nearly double shows strong arguments on each side.

Just Give’em the Increase

It all began on November 29, 2012. Approximately 200 fast food workers in New York City decided to walk off of their jobs demanding $15 an hour for fast food workers in the Empire State. Instead of simply making a bold gesture by striking against pay inequality and demanding increased funds, these individuals started an international movement that now spans 150 cities and 33 countries on six continents, according to strikefastfood.org.

The main arguments are summarized as:

• Families living in poverty

• Inability to afford housing and/or homelessness

• Incapacity to obtain or access sufficient:

Clothing Healthcare

Childcare Food


The low wage business model costs tax payers $7 billion annually due to fast food workers in dire straits relying on taxpayer dollars for additional public assistance, according to, “Fast Food Wages Come with a $7B Side of Public Assistance,” posted on Bloomberg online.

On the Other Hand …

In the case of the minimum wage battle, the opposition to wage increases offers several arguments as to why this could possibly bring forth an abundance of more disparity:

• Raising the minimum wage could boost costs and cause job cuts. If not jobs, hours may be reduced and businesses could potentially automate the workplace, taking away the human factor.

• Employers may raise consumer prices to keep a profit

• A rise in the minimum wage could possibly reduce employment by 1% to 3% for lower level workers

• Mom & pop shops will not be able to financially endure higher wages on top of other taxes they pay to keep their businesses staffed properly

Most studies show the effects of the a higher minimum wage does little to reduce poverty.

To date, the movement to increase wages has seen progress. According to www.minimumwage. com, 29 states including the District of Columbia have minimum wages that surpass the Federal minimum. Nevertheless, the fight persists for this standard to become the new norm nationwide as fast food workers look to their employers and the government to ask them the same question they recite countless times every day … “How may I help you?”