A country of low-wage McJobs

I hate this about the US. Hate it. It’s contemptible and awful.

In Europe, many people scoff at the US as a country of low-wage McJobs with paltry benefits – often no paid sick days, no paid vacation and no health insurance. In Denmark, a McDonald’s hamburger flipper averages $22 an hour (with six weeks’ paid vacation), while in the US, fast-food jobs pay half that on average.

Plus no health insurance.

You might wonder: how can the United States, the world’s wealthiest nation, be a low-wage economy? Of the 37 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the unofficial club of rich and near-rich nations, the US has the third-highest percentage of low-wage workers, with nearly one in four workers defined as low-wage. Only Latvia and Romania are worse. (That study defines low-wage as earning less than two-thirds of a nation’s median wage.) In another study, Brookings found that 53 million Americans hold low-wage jobs, with a median pay of $10.22 an hour and median annual earnings of $17,950.

Yet we’re a rich country. There’s no excuse.

The US also has the lowest minimum wage among the G7 industrial nations in terms of purchasing power. America’s $7.25-an-hour federal minimum is 38% lower than Germany’s and 30% lower than Britain’s, Canada’s and France’s. This helps explain why the US has among the worst income inequality of the 37 OECD nations – only Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica and Bulgaria have greater inequality. And the US has the third highest poverty rate; only Hungary and Costa Rica are worse.

Yet we’re richer as a country than any of those.

Corporations, along with their Republican allies, overwhelmingly oppose a $15 minimum; in doing so, however, they ignore the will of the vast majority of Americans. According to a Pew poll, Americans favor a $15 minimum by 67% to 33%. While low-wage workers would be most vulnerable to any job losses caused by a higher minimum, lower-income Americans shows even greater support for a $15 minimum. Pew found that 74% of Americans making under $40,000 a year support a $15 minimum wage, as do 56% of Republicans making under $40,000. Last November, Floridians – even as their state went for Trump – voted 61% to 39% in favor of raising their state’s minimum to $15, joining eight other states that have approved a $15 minimum.

Despite such strong public backing for a $15 minimum, it looks doubtful that even one Republican senator – even though the Republican party now describes itself as the party of workers – will vote for a $15 minimum.

Well you see it’s like this – the Republican definition of “worker” is “racist white man with guns and MAGA cap.” It’s got nothing to do with wages or unions or benefits.

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