May 7, 2014
By Neal Tepel
New York, NY – Low-wage job creation was not just part of our early economic recovery but is a trend that has continued four years into the recovery, according to a report released by the National Employment Law Project. The report found that there are now nearly two million fewer jobs in mid- and higher-wage industries than there were before the recession took hold, while there are 1.85 million more jobs in lower-wage industries.
The report's author Michael Evangelist told the New York Times, "Fast food is driving the bulk of the job growth at the low end…. If this is the reality — if these jobs are here to stay and are going to be making up a considerable part of the economy — the question is, how do we make them better?"
Wage growth is improving very slowly, Nelson Schwartz wrote in the New York Times. A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the employment cost index showed that private sector wages and salaries in the first quarter of 2014 increased at the slowest rate since the bureau began tracking the data in March 1980.
Less than a year after fast-food workers in Seattle started fighting for $15 an hour and the right to form a union, the mayor announced an agreement to raise the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour. A Bloomberg article said the mayor was "adopting the rallying cry of fast-food workers," by proposing a $15 an hour minimum wage.
Alternet profiled Kansas City McDonald's worker Melinda Topel, who has a college degree and works full time while raising her four kids. She said, "I'm talking to more and more workers everyday, explaining that what these corporations are doing to us is not right. I just want people to understand that the reason we're fighting for $15 and a union is because we deserve to earn a livable wage."
It is certainly significant that fast-food shareholders are now raising concerns about CEO pay across the country. Fast-food CEOs make 1,200 times the pay of the average fast-food worker. This is nearly four times the average pay gap between CEOs and workers in other industries. It's time to raise minimum wages to $15 per hour.