This Is What Would Happen If Fast-Food Workers Got Raises

Restaurant workers are demanding higher wages. If they succeed, diners will feel the pain
An employee delivers food at a Sonic drive-in restaurant in Normal, Ill. Photograph by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

For years, jobs in fast-food restaurants have had a bad reputation—and bad pay to match. That hasn’t stopped an estimated 3.9 million Americans from landing behind the counter. In late July, thousands of fast-food employees in seven U.S. cities staged one-day strikes, demanding $15 an hour—about two-thirds more than the roughly $9 hourly wage a typical worker at these restaurants earns and twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Although the protests have ended with no imminent change in sight, they raise this question: What are the business consequences of paying fast-food workers a living wage?

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