In light of the recent actions over wages for fast food workers, activists and economists are debating the consequences of paying higher wages (what advocates term a "living wage"). On one side, you have economists saying that paying higher wages would be beneficial not just to the workers themselves, but overall because it would ultimately result in less government support and it wouldn’t actually cost consumers all that much. On the other side, you have folks arguing that it’s untenable for businesses, it would cost jobs and hurt working families, and ultimately, it would encourage employers to replace $15-per-hour workers with automated devices that do the same job only cheaper.
Would you pay an extra dollar for your Big Mac if it meant McDonald’s employees could afford to live a better life? Or do you think that capitalism works best when business are unfettered and can pay what they think a job is worth? Should we even be considering fast food worker-type jobs as something that could be a long-term career or is it more realistic to consider them good entry-level positions but little else?
John Schmitt, Senior Economist, Center for Economic and Policy Research
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute