Living Wages, Rarity for U.S. Fast-Food Workers, Served Up in Denmark

Some economists point to Denmark, where fast-food workers make more than twice what they would in the United States, in discussions about American wages.
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Same argument has been made since minimum wage hit $1.00. If all the dire forecasts had held true, there would be no jobs left in America now.

1 2018-12-05 00:29:38 - It'sAPity

The article makes pretty clear the trade-off: With lower restaurant profitability, there are about 45 McDonalds per person in America, versus 15 in Denmark. So the Danish system results in 2/3 fewer jobs, but at twice the wages.

So consider whether you would snap your fingers and eliminate 2/3 of American fast food jobs in order to double wages. It's not such an easy question to answer when you look at it that way.

6 2017-10-17 18:36:18 - Ryan D

Starbucks just raised its own minimum wage to $9.30? or thereabouts. In Indiana it was 2.00 more than what starting employees were paid. My 18 year old son will now earn 15.00 as a coffee master. Starbucks gets it. Valuing your workers actually makes good business sense. They are more devoted to your company and work harder to please your customers. My son said workers were just over joyed by this change. It will mean that working at Starbucks is a real job. They also have 401K, health insurance way before Obamacare. My son is a full time student, but he has worked for Starbucks since he turned 16. He isn't going anywhere else anytime soon.

17 2017-09-27 22:09:05 - uofcenglish

“We don’t want people living on the streets. If that happens, we consider that we as a society have failed.”
And that is the difference between the US and more civilized nations.

60 2017-09-19 13:17:47 - TheSchoolLibrary

Part of the problem in the US seems to be a lack of solidarity among workers. Rather than supporting the notion that someone working in fast food should get paid at least $15 an hour, the first reaction from many folks is "Why should he make $X while I only get paid $Y?" The real question is, why should anybody get paid less than $15 an hour? Clearly that extra income would fuel private consumption almost instantly across the economy and represent a huge net benefit.

151 2017-08-25 20:36:16 - RM

The last two sentences say it all.

“We don’t want people living on the streets. If that happens, we consider that we as a society have failed.”

16 2017-07-24 00:28:11 - pointpeninsula

Paul, pundits who serve the interests of big money and Washington want you to believe that Bernie Sanders has zero chance of winning. The reality is that while the 1% may have the money advantage, we have the people power. Electing a black president was a difficult barrier to overcome, but it finally happened in 2008.

Sanders says that we need a political revolution in this country, where millions of people will knock on doors and make phone calls to counter the influence of big money. And, of course, the 99% needs to donate what they can.

Get involved. We can make it happen!

2 2017-07-13 16:11:12 - RLS

When will the owners of Burger King and their ilk, and the rest of the 1% realize that by the time their children or grandchildren are grown their businesses will be bankrupt. Why? Because fewer and fewer people will be able to afford their products. The dwindling middle class means lower sales volumes for all businesses catering to the masses.

7 2017-07-08 23:23:09 - vmerriman

Better yet buy a franchise and show them how to do it.

1 2017-06-14 00:10:37 - jacobi

And some people may actually make that choice. Why should I pay it?

0 2017-06-11 03:02:17 - Tom

The headline could have continued:

and in Australia and Just About any First World Country

11 2017-06-03 15:10:54 - Jodi Anderson

In my area, at the northern border of the US, it used to be VERY rare to see hispanics at all. Now we see them, and they are doing restaurant and construction work, as well as landscaping.

Is it likely that they came here legally? or that it is an influx of illegal aliens? And do you think that the fast food places or restaurants pay them even MINIMUM wage as it is today -- or some cash under the table?

0 2017-05-27 17:25:28 - Concerned Citizen

Reply to Hanrod.... labor costs are a pretty small percent contribution in fast-food, say compared to the food, building, energy, etc. As US prices for their products have risen, where has that money gone, certainly not to the employees.

The employees in the US are exploited, because, they have been systematically disenfranchised. And we complain about iPhones made in sweat-shops, exceptionally hypocritical!

16 2017-05-24 23:41:33 - John Stephens

JM, If you pay workers $15.00 or more per hour, you make less profit which is fine with me. I don't see fast food franchises in Denmark automating, do you? Automating has large fixed costs and its outcome is highly unpredictible. It's time we shifted the balance back to workers. Not paying people has terrible ramifications. They end up on government assistance which taxpayers supplement. The franchise owners simply walk away with greater profit. This is hardly fair and simply should not be allowed to stand. On a more selfish note, workers with no disposable income cannot help keep our consumer based economy running, which ultimately damages, and potentially destabilizes, the entire nation.

1 2017-05-22 14:40:30 - j

I went to the Danish Burger King site, which is where the guy works, got the price in Kronen and converted to dollars. I added in the VAT tax. My quoted figure is for a meal. Fries and drinks are a lot more expensive in Denmark than here. So you can rely on the article's comparison of Big Mac prices, ignoring the 25% VAT tax, and ignoring the fact that nobody just orders a Big Mac, or you can rely on my prices which compare total costs for a meal.

4 2017-05-17 04:39:20 - michjas

The problem with Thatcher's quote is that it ignores basic economics. The economy is not a zero-sum game. If that were the case, there would never be any economic growth. The quote is a handy crutch which supports a cruel lie: that there must be poor people.

There's a well-known Swedish notion: Lagom. It means "enough" as in , no one should have to struggle in a modern, advanced society. It recognizes that all are happier when some are not deliberately disadvantaged. A decent place to live, time to spend enjoying life, freedom from the risk of economic ruin in the face of illness, these are the building blocks of a society that has the highest percentage of satisfied, happy citizens. Of course, this makes Scandinavia a target of ridicule by the ogliarchs and their minions.

The article states it clearly: there is a profit to be made. Otherwise, McDonalds would not operate there. How much must we be willing to give to the wealthy for them to be satisfied? Clearly, as always, we have yet to find out.

4 2017-05-16 06:47:46 - Bunkie

More significantly as a cause for high unemployment in the US is the fact our corporations moved their businesses overseas. If we pass laws to force them to bring their operations back to the US, many unemployed and underemployed workers will be able to get good paying jobs. Law of supply and demand will then force fast food companies to pay higher wages to get workers.

0 2017-04-30 16:22:19 - Christie

Do you ever wonder, that you have replaced the feudal system, that your ancestors fleed from in the old country, with mulitimilliondollar business men deciding everything with the power of money? It seems to me, that it - as it was the case in Europe in the 16-17 century - the 1 procent owns it all - all others are just slaves to "the man with the green"...

9 2017-04-26 12:09:37 - Sabina

I would absolutely pay more for a Big Mac if it meant that the workers were being paid a fair wage, that McDonalds didn't get to foist some of its true costs of employment onto the public (Mr. Moore's daughters both receive Medicaid, whereas if he made a decent wage he could afford to buy his own health coverage,) and that workers who desperately needed the money didn't go to work sick.

It would be interesting to me to compare Mr. Elofsson's and Mr. Moore's buying power, which was not done in this article.

124 2017-04-24 01:12:39 - Practicalities

Their population is less than NYC and is fairly homogenous. It is an oil and chemical based economy.

2 2017-04-16 23:56:38 - Un

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