Striking workers at McDonald's and other fast-food chains conducted strikes and walkouts in nearly 60 cities Thursday, hoping for super-size wage hikes that, for many, would boost their hourly pay to $15 from the current federal minimum $7.25.
WFMY News 2 spoke to economics expert Dave Ribar from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro about the effects of a minimum wage increase.
Ribar said, "In real terms (that is adjusting for the cost of living), the current national minimum wage of $7.25 is very low. 50 years ago, the minimum wage was worth about half the average wage for all workers; today the minimum wage is worth just over a third of the average wage."
One analyst estimates, if restaurants passed the entire cost of a $15 minimum wage on to customers, it would only cost the average American about a dime per day.
"One reason why we currently have such a low minimum wage is that we do not automatically adjust it for inflation. A 'balanced' approach would be to first restore the minimum wage to its 'real'value ($7.90) when it was last reset in 2009 and thereafter
adjust it each year for inflation and second to substantially increase the value of the Earned Income Tax Credit," said Ribar. "A modest bump in the minimum wage to $7.90 would help workers and increase fairness without much of an employment effect."