McDonald's and Visa have launched a website advising the fast-food giant's low-wage employees on how to survive on their meager earnings.
The McDonald's-Visa Practical Money Skills for Life™ site contains a controversial Budget Journal that's raising eyebrows because it implicitly acknowledges that McDonald's employees, who according to PayScale.com earn an average of less than $7.75/hour in non-managerial positions, cannot survive by working just one job, even full-time.
The site's 'sample monthly budget' included $1,105 in "first job" income-- about what a minimum wage McDonald's employee would earn from working full-time, 40-hour weeks. It lists $955 in "second job" income, which amounts to around an additional 32 hours of minimum wage work. So in order to meet the needs of McDonald's sample budget, an employee would have to put in a 72-hour work week. That's either 10 hours a day, seven days a week, or six 12-hour days.
What's more, the 'sample monthly budget' originally allocated $0 in monthly heating costs, fine, perhaps, for employees residing in Hawaii, but extremely unrealistic for anyone living north of Fort Lauderdale. Someone at McDonald's must have caught this glaring omission, for the site's sample budget has been updated and now sets aside $50 for monthly heating bills.
McDonald's sample employee budget.
The sample budget does not include any money for food or clothing, although one can assume these expenses would fit under the $100 budgeted for 'other' expenses. A person eats about 90 meals in a typical month; under McDonald's budget, those meals should cost no more than $1.11 each and employees should never buy any clothing or shoes.
The McDonald's budget also only earmarks $20 a month for health insurance. According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, the average monthly health insurance premium for an individual US worker is $215. As CNNMoney reported in 2010, the most affordable medical plan at McDonald's costs $14 per week, for $2,000 worth of annual coverage. That's $56 a month for what Boston University health policy and management professor Alan Sager called "unacceptably inadequate" and "radically inferior" insurance.
In March, an analysis of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data by Pulitzer Prize-winning tax policy journalist David Cay Johnston revealed that between 1966 and 2011, the average inflation-adjusted income of the bottom 90 percent of all US workers grew by just $59, while the average income of the top 10 percent of workers soared by $116,071. The average income of the top 0.01 percent grew by a staggering $18.4 million during the same period.
McDonald's CEO, who earned $8.8 million last year, is part of that 0.01 percent. His income was 583 times that of a McDonald's employee earning minimum wage and working full-time, 40-hour weeks all year with no vacation. According to Bloomberg Business Week, the average McDonald's employee would have to work a million hours-- or 114 years-- to earn as much as the company's CEO makes in a year.
While McDonald's profits soared 135% between 2007 and 2011 and the company paid a whopping $6 billion in dividends and stock buybacks in the last fiscal year, employee wages have all but stagnated. One Illinois McDonald's employee who's been with the company for 20 years, for example, is still earning minimum wage.
Fast-food workers, including McDonald's employees, across America have recently begun to stage demonstrations, strikes and walkouts to protest their poverty wages.
Such low wages are a significant part of the reason why one out of every six Americans is living in poverty. That's more than 46 million people-- more than the combined populations of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
According to the United Nations, the United States ranks 52nd in the world in income equality, just below Senegal and just above Cambodia.