High unemployment by definition means more people are seeking fewer jobs. The labor "market" operates much the same as other markets -- supply and demand. When the supply increases (more job seekers) the price (wages) goes down. Those at the bottom of the economy become trapped in a downward feedback loop that makes their financial situation worse than ever. The business reason to keep wages low, then, is to drive the profit line. And sure enough...
According to a recent report by the National Employment Law Project, most low-wage workers are employed by large corporations that have been enjoying healthy profits. Three-quarters of these employers (the fifty biggest employers of low-wage workers) are raking in higher revenues now than they did before the recession.Robert Reich argues it is a good time for workers to organize and demand higher wages. My years in food service management have made me averse to unions. I have always felt that any company whose employees are driven to form a union has brought union organization on itself. But in the case of the very bottom of the economy.
I find myself in agreement with Reich.
Organizing workers at the very bottom of the wage scale is nearly impossible. There are too many available scabs.
For that reason I am a strong supporter of an increase in the minimum wage, especially when unemployment is high AND CORPORATE PROFITS ARE AT RECORD HIGHS. That is politically unrealistic. So wildcat strikes and attempts at union organization are the next best action.
~~~§§§~~~Eventually fast foods may become more expensive. From a public health standpoint that is not a bad development. (Obesity, heart disease, diabetes...)
As long as high-end coffee shops flourish and Chick-fil-A makes as much in six days as everybody else does in seven, there is plenty of room for wages to get better.
THEN THERE'S THIS...