McDonald’s and the Fate of the Middle Class


Ideas

In recent weeks fast-food workers have staged dramatic one-day strikes in cities across the country, demanding a $15 starting wage, instead of about $8 on average at places like McDonald’s. The strikes have prompted much debate about fast food and the cost of a Big Mac. But this moment isn’t just about burger-flippers—it’s about the realization that the American middle class has been hollowed out to the point of decimation. Today, one in four jobs is low-wage, and at current pace it will be one in two jobs by 2024—which means that what fast-food companies pay people today will affect us all.

(MORE: The Dollar Menu for Rent and Gas: McDonald’s Budget Advice for Employees Falls Short)

Companies like McDonald’s may protest that their margins are too thin, their workforces too transient to justify a $15 minimum wage. Yet in other countries the company pays exactly that…

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