Since the end of the last recession, unemployment has fallen from over 10% to around 7.4%. While this is generally good news, many of the newly created jobs since 2010 have come in low-wealth industries such as fast food. In fact, growth in the fast-food industry has been faster than that of any other industry; employment has expanded by over 10% in the past three years. More than 100 cities now see these workers striking for higher wages. The average wage for a fast food employee in the United States is around $8.50 per hour, not nearly enough to live on. The central theme of this strike is to request a wage of $15 per hour.
Given the fact that last year McDonalds reaped after-tax profits of around 6.5 billion dollars, they could probably afford to pay their employees a bit more.
But I'm more concerned with the bigger picture here. The healthiest portion of our economy happens to be the sector that arguably contributes most to making us unhealthy. Obesity rates continue to rise and yet more and more fast food jobs are created. We know that American need to lose weight, but our new jobs simply expand unhealthy options for Americans. This seems like a huge paradox.
Furthermore, the jobs are not good for the employees either! (Even those who choose not to eat the food) Working for a fast food restaurant where you make close to minimum wage will not allow you to improve your life, it will keep you in poverty. As far as I see it, McDonalds and other unhealthy fast-food chains are almost like a collective black hole.
These jobs are actually making the country much worse. Employees have almost no opportunity for upward mobility and end up trapped in poverty, patrons use these businesses as a way to become fat and unhealthy and yet the economy grows. Something has to change here. We as a country need to learn to look more into economic numbers and realize what they really mean. A country that grows fatter by the day while expanding low wage job options is not a country heading in a positive direction.