Fast food restaurants Chipotles and Starbucks are increasing wages for their lowest paid workers. This move comes after many of its customers have said they support raising the minimum wage for the lowest paid employees at the Starbucks and Chipotles. It also comes amidst pressure that the minimum wage paid to fast food employees is simply not enough to survive on and leads to poverty.
The move to raise minimum wages and give pay raises to low paid employees is a positive sign for workers in the fast food industry, and other low paying jobs in retail and healthcare. Such wage increases should help many struggling families get out of poverty and increase their take home pay. Wages have simply not kept up with inflation. The dollar buys much less than it did 10 years ago. Yet the federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 per hour. The cost of living has increased significantly, yet wages have not. This has lead to decreased purchasing power, in other words people can’t buy as much goods as they used to with their pay. Stagnant wages also lead to poverty and a decreased standard of living.
Many cities and states are now debating on whether they should enact legislation to raise the minimum wage in their jurisdiction. Many cities and states already have higher minimum wage laws than the paltry $7.25 an hour outlined by the federal government. San Francisco has an minimum wage of $12.25 per hour which is almost double the minimum wage at the federal level. However, many states do not have higher minimum wage laws and those that do often have a marginally higher wage.
In New York State, the state government is looking into raising the minimum wage for fast food workers and other low paid employees after a series of labor hearings found shocking testimony from fast food workers. If a major legislative or executive action is taken place in New York it could have a domino effect all over the country. This would do wonders for many workers who deserve liveable wages in today’s economy.