The minimum wage today is slightly higher than the cost of most McDonald's menu meals. If the wage rate of $15 per hour were imposed upon a McDonalds restaurant the cost of most of its meal deals would necessarily rise to a proportionate level. (That is more than $6 per all-beef patty for those keeping track.)
The question unconsidered by those carrying signs is how the $12 or $13 sandwich will affect the pace of sales. How many Gratiot fast food joints will be able to sell enough $12 sandwiches to keep the doors open? But, say the unions, 'if people are making more money they will buy higher priced fare.' Um, no.
Higher wages, unless they are attached to productivity increases, will result in the loss of sales and, ultimately, jobs. A business must operate profitably or it must close the doors. (That is, unless it is an auto producer or a bank or a green energy company in which case it can expect to be bailed out by the government while the real unemployment rate continues to rise.) Those few businesses that are left standing might do a brisk business and keep a full roster, but how many people will be employed by those who had to close the doors?
I feel bad for those people who are trapped inside minimum wage jobs for years. Yet, in the economy workers are a commodity whose worth will rise and fall with supply and demand and productivity. In an sluggish urban work environment where real unemployment among certain groups is as high as thirty percent, no business that wants to keep the doors open can afford to pay an arbitrary amount based solely upon a person's self esteem.
(Incidentally, for those wondering, I believe I'm worth $100,000 per year though my dedicated employment offer phone remains inexplicably silent. Go figure.)
The answer to nearly all of those workers who manage to stay at the bottom of the labor pool forever is this: don't make bad decisions. Don't drop out of school. Don't do drugs. Don't commit a crime. Don't parent children too young. Don't cover your face, neck and arms with tattoos. When you get married stay married. Oh, and don't vote democrat. And for that kid who lives right next to the bank down the street from my house...pull up your friggen pants!
People who manage to avoid the above are generally able to navigate their way through life reaching ever higher salary strata in fields of employment that do not use unskilled labor. Until operating the grease fryer truly requires an engineering degree how much above minimum wage will it ever pay?