I was dismayed when I learned of the McDonald’s franchise owner’s attitude towards his employees and prospective hires. When a job is offered, it is up to the prospective employee as to whether the offered wage is worth it, to give up other work opportunities and time with their loved ones.

Unemployment insurance compensation (UIC), a program into which most workers have paid during their entire working lives, provides about 50 percent of one’s typical wages, with a temporary $300 per week increase available due to the pandemic. This is not "free money," this is insurance for which workers have already paid the premiums.

The correct analogy would be trying to sell something for a fair price. If I am trying to sell you a couch, I will not accept a price unless it is fair. The same goes for my time (and a job offer). If I were in a position to hire folks, I would be receptive of feedback that offered wages were too low, because it would tell me that prospective employees value their time, want to do good work, and prefer to stay loyal.

When poverty wages are offered, do not expect folks to knock down your door looking for work. For a family of four, the federal poverty line is $26,500 per year. If someone were to work for forty hours per week (full-time) at a job offering $12.75 per hour for 52 weeks per year (imagine no vacations, days off, or taxes taken out), that would equate to gross wages of about $26,520. If any business is paying wages that keep families just a tiny smidgen above the official poverty line, maybe they should not be so surprised that folks are not that interested in working for them.

Recent research by economists has shown that enhanced unemployment benefits have not discouraged people from going back to work or looking for work. Indeed, initial claims for UIC have decreased to about 547,000 in mid-April 2021, and job applications are up. The data shows that people would prefer to work rather than get UIC.



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