Category Archives: US Jobs

Fast Food Restaurant Protests

One of the big stories over the past few weeks is protests going on around the county by fast food workers demanding higher pay.  In some cases, these people are walking off the job in protest.  Fast food workers are protesting at McDonalds, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC and others.  Many of these workers are upset because they believe they should be paid more, in some cases more than double what they are being paid today.

I think the workers have every right to protest, find other jobs or quit.  The business model at these restaurants will not adequately support higher pay.  The jobs are lower wage because they are repetitive in nature, requiring only basic skills.  The jobs were designed for employees with limited training and that can be done will little supervision.  Further, the customers of these fast food restaurants want low cost food.  They want the restaurants to continue promotions, to continue their $1 menus and continue their discounted ‘combo’ offerings.

The real problem with this scenario is the people who are now working these low skilled, entry level fast food jobs.  Traditionally, most of the fast food jobs were taken by high school and college aged students who might be living at home and in a position to make minimum wage.  They were gaining good experience while at the same time wanting a flexible schedule where they might be only working 20-30 hours per week.

If you go into most fast food restaurants today, the employees are people in there 20s or 30s, sometimes older, who have children and families to support.  No longer are these employees wanting to work part time with flexible schedules.  They want to work 40 hours a week, have benefits and be paid a wage that will allow them to support not only themselves, but their family.

The real problem is the people who are in these jobs are low skilled workers who are unable to find other employment.  Companies don’t want to invest in training.  They want to hire people ready to work and contribute day one.  Further, there are a limited number of higher paid jobs, there are not enough manufacturing jobs in American that pay higher wages.

The real long term solution is to create an environment where companies can afford to manufacture goods in the US again.  This will create higher demand for skilled works and will result in employers willing to hire and train the people they need.

There are many things that the President and Congress can do to improve the economic conditions and jobs in the United States.  I hope that rather than make it more difficult for businesses to operate, with programs like Obamacare, they should be making a concerted effort to make it easier and less expensive.  This will result in more higher paying jobs, this is the real solution that these fast food workers want and need.

 

 

 

 

Made in America

This past weekend I was out shopping at a large upscale mall near where I live.  The mall is called Irvine Spectrum and is always packed with shoppers.  There is a Nordstrom and Macys, along with many other upscale retailers.  I was there to shop for a new pair of running shoes and decided to do a bit more shopping.

I went into Lucky Brands, a upscale mens and womens clothing store.  They specialize in selling  high quality jeans and accessories.  While I was looking at a pair of jeans, a clerk came over and asked if I would be interested in buying a pair of pants that were “made in America”.  I was really surprised, I had never been approached by someone offering me clothing with that selling point.

I decided to take a look at the jeans, they didn’t look any different from the other jeans, other than the price, which was about 20% higher than the other jeans I was looking at.  I thought to myself, would I be willing to pay an extra $20 for a pair of jeans to support US manufacturing jobs.  Then I wondered how much of the Jeans were actually “made in America”, or were the components just put together/sewn together.  Was the cotton grown in the US, was the cotton woven into cloth in the US, was the cloth dyed in the US, was the zipper made in the US and etc.

I ended up not buying anything, but did realized that prior to this, I’ve never really thought about where the clothes I wear were made.  The important thing to me has always been about quality, style and price.

I continued my shopping and found myself at American Apparel.  A retailer who uses, Made in the USA as part of its logo.  100% of its clothing are sewn in the US and it is vertically integrated, so the many of the materials it uses are also sourced in the US.  According to their website, they operate the largest sewing facility in the US.

As I am shopping at American Apparel, I notice that the pricing is considerably higher than similar clothing at other retailers.  American Apparel, unlike Lucky Brands, isn’t considered a ‘designer’ brand that you would expect to pay more for.  Basics such as button down shirts were over $50.  After shopping for a few minutes, I leave without buying anything.

I really like the idea of buying American, supporting US based manufacturing jobs and US based workers.  However, I am not sure what it is worth to me to do that.  Am I willing to pay 20% or more for something that is made in the US.  I really don’t know the answer to that.  My initial thinking is probably not, since I tend to be very price sensitive, but if it helps the overall economy, perhaps it makes sense.

There isn’t really a clear answer for me on this.  If the prices were the same or very close, I would buy everything that was made in America, however, with the price difference, this is something that I will have to think about.