As I wrote earlier today, the corporate brass at McDonald's seem to believe that in order to survive on what they pay their restaurant workers, you need a second job. And hey, credit where it's due: they're probably right. Fast food wages are terrible. If you're relying on a minimum- or near-minimum-wage check each month, it means you're living life on the financial precipice.
Since this out, however, I've gotten a few pointed responses from readers, the gist of which was captured pretty well in this tweet by Vincent from Chicago (I assure you, I'm the one getting yelled at):
Vincent is hinting at a fairly sophisticated set of arguments you tend to hear from people who don't worry too much about minimum-wage workers, in particular. In brief: There aren't that many them; the jobs are mostly occupied by "suburban teenagers, not single parents," as the Heritage Foundation puts it; and people don't earn minimum wage for very long.
Or again, nobody makes a career as a cashier at McDonalds.
And there's something to all that. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 1.68 million workers earning the federal minimum wage in 2011, accounting for about 2.3 percent of the workforce. About half were below the age of 24, and as the Heritage Foundation notes, the vast majority of those minimum wagers were enrolled in school. Moreover, one study by the Employment Policies Institute estimated that, between 1977 and 1998, more than 65 percent of minimum wage workers managed to land a raise within a year of starting their job.