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Fast Food Wages - 11/13/14

Fast food workers in the U.S. are not generally associated with high wages.  But there are parts of the word in which such workers make plenty of money, at least by American standards.  Writers Liz Alderman and Steven Greenhouse point out that in a recent article that they base wage for fast food workers throughout Denmark is equivalent to about $20 an hour, or about 2 and a half times what many fast food workers earn in America. 

Not surprisingly, some labor activists in the U.S. have been asking why if Danish fast food chains can remain profitably by paying $20 per hour, why can’t U.S. chains pay say $15 per hour.  Some American economists and many business groups reject the comparison because of fundamental differences between Denmark and the U.S., including Denmark’s high cost of living and taxes. They also point out that fast food restaurants in Denmark are in fast less profitable than their American counterparts. 

There are some compelling arguments in the other direction, however.  Fast food wages in the U.S. are low enough such that half of the nation’s fast food workers rely on some form of public assistance according to a study from the University of California, Berkeley.  American fast food workers earn on average less than 9 dollars an hour.

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants. Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes. Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.