McDonald's can afford to pay its workers a living wage without sacrificing any of its low menu prices, according to a new study provided to The Huffington Post by a University of Kansas researcher.
Doubling the salaries and benefits of all McDonald's employees — from workers earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour to CEO Donald Thompson, whose 2012 compensation totaled $8.75 million — would cause the price of a Big Mac to increase just 68 cents, from $3.99 to $4.67, University of Kansas research assistant Arnobio Morelix told HuffPost. In addition, every item on the Dollar Menu would go up by 17 cents.
Morelix's research comes as fast-food workers across the country strike for a $15 per hour minimum wage. Workers are also protesting for the right to unionize without fear of retaliation. Protesters are holding strikes in seven cities over a four-day period, according to Salon.
Morelix looked at McDonald's 2012 annual report and discovered that only 17.1 percent of the fast-food giant's revenue goes toward salaries and benefits. In other words, for every dollar McDonald's earns, a little more than 17 cents goes toward the income and benefits of its more than 500,000 U.S. employees.
Thus, if McDonald's executives wanted to double the salaries of all of its employees and keep profits and other expenses the same, it would need to increase prices by just 17 cents per dollar, according to Morelix.
McDonald's declined a request to comment from The Huffington Post.
Thompson said last week that McDonald's has "always been an above-minimum wage employer." Yet experts and workers alike have questioned that claim, arguing that the CEO is out of touch with how difficult it is to live on the wages McDonald's offers.
A recent study from the National Employment Law Project found that jobs like cooks, cashiers, delivery workers and other non-managerial positions across the fast-food industry earn a median hourly wage of $8.94 per hour. As fast-food wages remain relatively stagnant, many workers actually have less buying power today than their peers did during the 1950s, writes Mark Bittman of The New York Times.