Is This $17 Chick-fil-A Minimum Wage Sustainable?

Find out if paying higher wages is sustainable for employers.

Eric Mason, a Sacramento, Calif., Chick-fil-A owner, raised his employees’ hourly wage to $17 per hour on June 4. His employees, who were previously making $12 to $13 per hour, got a sizable raise.

But this leaves many wondering if a higher minimum wage can work.

Click to read more about the best and worst cities to be making minimum wage.

Is a Higher Minimum Wage Sustainable?

Some business owners feel raising the minimum wage will have a positive impact on the economy: When workers earn more, they spend more. In addition, some business owners feel that companies that pay only the minimum wage are staffing beyond their means, and that raising the wage will encourage them to staff a better group of workers when they pay more. Naysayers feel that boosting the minimum wage will create a shortage of jobs for those just entering the workforce and are concerned about having to raise prices to pay wages, which might diminish their competitive edge in the marketplace.

Find Out: Cities Where You Can Realistically Live on Minimum Wage

Mason feels that the amount he’s paying is a living wage. “As the owner, I’m looking at it big-picture and long-term,” Mason said in an interview with ABC10 of Sacramento. “What that does for the business is provide consistency, someone that has relationships with our guests, and it’s going to be building a long-term culture.”

Mason is interested not only in hiring excellent “hospitality professionals,” he is interested in retaining them. The fast food industry’s employee retention numbers are dismal: In 2016, the turnover rate in the restaurants and accommodations sector was about 73 percent, according to Bruce Grindy, chief economist at the National Restaurant Association.

Read: How to Live Comfortably on Just the Minimum Wage

Compare Minimum Wages

There are more than 2,200 Chick-fil-A restaurants across the U.S. Each is operated and owned individually, a Chick-fil-A restaurant spokesperson said. Therefore, each owner makes his own wage decisions.

Compare these hourly wage facts with Mason’s wage policy:

  • The average hourly rate for U.S. fast-food workers is $8.29, according to PayScale, a website dedicated to providing information about the right pay for every type of position.
  • The current California minimum wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018, is $10.50 per hour for companies with 25 or fewer employees and $11 per hour for companies with more than 25 employees, according to the State of California Department of Industrial Relations.
  • That wage will rise in January 2019 to $11 and $12 per hour, respectively, and continue to rise until 2023, when the wage will be $15 per hour for both types of companies.

Click through to read more about the reality of what you can afford on minimum wage.

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