A $15 U.S. Minimum Wage: How the Fast-Food Industry Could Adjust Without Shedding Jobs

>> Read article in Journal of Economic Issues

Abstract

We consider the extent to which U.S. fast-food businesses could adjust to an increase in the federal minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour without having to resort to reducing their workforce. We consider this issue through a set of simple illustrative exercises, whereby the US raises the federal minimum wage in two steps over four years, first to $10.50 within one year, then to $15 after three more years. We conclude that the fast-food industry could absorb the increase in its overall wage bill without resorting to cuts in their employment levels at any point over this four-year adjustment period. We find that the fast-food industry could fully absorb these wage bill increases through a combination of turnover reductions, trend increases in sales growth, and modest annual price increases over the four-year period. Working from the relevant existing literature, our results are based on a set of reasonable assumptions on fast-food turnover rates, the price elasticity of demand within the fast-food industry, and the industry’s underlying trend for sales growth. We also show that fast-food firms would not need to lower their average profit rate during this adjustment period.

This is an official web page
of the University of Massachusetts.

Political Economy Research Institute

Gordon Hall, 418 N. Pleasant St., Suite A

Amherst, MA 01002
Tel: 413-545-6355 Fax: 413-577-0261
Contact: