Burger-flipping never sounded so good. On Thursday, New York state governor Andrew Cuomo announced the formal approval of a $15-an-hour minimum wage for fast food workers across the state. The move came after a three-member panel tasked with evaluating fast food wages recommended the increase earlier this summer.
The news has many restaurant owners and internet commenters up in arms, but supporters of the increase say it will raise the living standard for fast food workers, who generally live below the poverty line. (Among the panel’s findings: 60 percent of fast-food workers receive public assistance in some form.)
But will it also raise productivity and job satisfaction? Quite possibly. Last year, the Washington Post reported on several happiness studies and concluded that, in general, life satisfaction goes up as minimum wage increases. Happier workers, then, could lead to a more pleasant experience for customers. Meaning that your burger could soon start to look more like what’s advertised on billboards and less like your dog’s favorite chew toy. Also, diners won’t have to fear having someone spit in their food out of general frustration (still, say “please” and “thank you”).
Pair the pay increase announcement with McDonald’s decision to switch over to cage free eggs, and it’s pretty easy to see the writing on the wall: conscious consumerism — whether it’s focused on “livable wages” or humane sourcing — has indeed created a sea change. Fast food hasn’t been forced to evolve in decades, now we are seeing a dramatic shift. Perhaps in the future, we’ll be able to go to a fast food restaurant (which will surely rebrand themselves “fast casual”) without any shame.