Fast Food Is Artificially Cheap

Seattle Can Raise the Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour While Barely Raising the Price of Your Burger


Screw "phasing it in" folks have waited long enough for decent wages.
Why stop at $15?
And some crazies are actually protesting for higher fast-food prices.…
Even if food prices go up, fast food customers would still pay it.
I'd like to know more about how this would effect smaller to mid sized businesses businesses. McDonalds has enough money that this will barely change their prices as this article talks about. What about restaurants who have more than the minimum number of non management employees for the $15 wage? The profit margin of this industry isn't very high.

Can we hear more about other industries who will or will not be effected.
#5, exactly. Yes, businesses that earn over a certain amount should be forced to pay their employees higher wages. However, there are many small business owners who are already struggling financially, like my relative who already goes for months without paying herself so that she can pay her staff. I worry that forcing a standard $15 minimum wage will destroy more small businesses in the city, resulting in a city where only big business and businesses run by the wealthy can afford to exist. I, too, would like the discussion to address that, since this issue has been so heavily framed as "corporations vs. the little guy." Small business owners are the little guy, as well, and proponents of this increase have so far completely disregarded how this would impact them.
Yeah. I also would love to hear about small businesses. And the only thing I've heard is that raising minimum wage would allow more people to eat out. But what about independent bookstores, record stores, boutiques, comic shops, etc etc. Would raising minimum wage really bring more business to say... Scarecrow Video? Or would it hurt them more in having to raise everyone's wages?
This needs to go in affect already. Seattle needs a real world economics lesson.
#8, Bumper stickers are not arguments.
#8, Someone also needs a grammar lesson. It's "go into effect."
I only hope that the proponents of the $15/hour minimum wage don't wuss out and apply it selectively. For fairness and decency it must apply to every employer, irrespective of their line of business.
#10 Thats right. Avoid the real issue at hand.
#12, I'm also #6, so I've already addressed my issues with this plan. The problem is, if you are a small business owner and have eight full-time employees, this is going to cost your business about $2,000 more per week. That is a significant amount for lower-to-middle class business owners, many of whom are going out of business as it is because they can't afford to pay the exorbitant rents in the city. Many of these employers would love to pay their staff $15 an hour but simply can't, and as a result of the mandatory increase they may be forced to close.

#11, how is mandating that a small business owner pay their workers as much as a multi-million dollar corporation fair? If this increase passes, enjoy your Chase Banks and Office Max's (or, at best, Dave Meinert & Linda Dershang-monopolized theme bars), because those are the businesses that will be able survive.

The real issues we should be pushing for are rent control and increased low income housing. Once small business owners can afford to pay rent, we can start looking at $15 an hour wages.
#13 I totally agree. I believe I read they were pushing to exempt small businesses. To what extent I don't know though.

We can't forgot though that a lot of these minimum wage jobs are entry "stepping stone" jobs. You aren't meant to be a low level McDonalds employee for 10 years. By then you should have gained the appropriate skills to move up in your current job or moved on to another company that pays your worth.

I really wish that everyone could be paid what they need, but thats not how the world works. You are paid for the skills you bring to your particular job. If we increase the wage of people that put french fries in a bag and microwave hamburgers by 60% why not increase the wage of social workers or other skilled workers that barely make over this proposed minimum wage and bring far more skills to the table.

As much as people want to believe that this will be helping the minimum wage workers out it won't. What is to stop the companies from hiring actual skilled workers if they are required to pay them $15/hr? These minimum wage workers and bleeding hearts are doing these people a disservice and are going to vote them out of a job.
#13 I agree. I say instead of building ladders to reach the fruit, why not bring the branch down for those to be able to pick the fruit with more ease.
1000 dollars an hour seems like it would help more. Maybe even a million.
Whatever happens with "fast food" profit margins or employment trends, the photo of that McDonald's (?) double burger has cemented beyond doubt, that I will NEVER eat anything that looks like that hunk of garbage ... ever.
wages go up prices go up, why? because greedy companies will raise prices because people can pay more. look at times like the gold rush. price gouging will happen. areas where wages are lower than here rents are cheaper, goods are cheaper, (most goods). people need a raise that is for sure. but greed will make prices go up.
yeah, it's all about the hamburger.
To #13, I'm one of those who want the $15/hour minimum wage as an economics lesson to progressives, and I want the lesson to be as comprehensive as possible.
"Seattle Can Raise the Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour While Barely Raising the Price of Your Burger..."

"...While Significantly Raising the Unemployment Rate of Unskilled Workers."

Let's find a few civic-minded small businesses in Seattle, preferably popular ones like fast food franchises, and have them voluntarily raise their minimum pay to $15/hour, and see what happens.

Yes, the price of your meal might indeed go up by 20 percent, but how much does that really effect business? I suspect not all that much.

Having employees that get some respect, and feel it, instead of being treated like drones -- customers notice that! Shop in any Costco for a while and you see what I mean.
What do we raise the wages to of those who currently make $15 an hour? Surely they won't want to be seen as mere minimum wage earners.
I really want to remind the people who argue "this is an entry level job/you're not supposed to work it the rest of your life/you're not meant to support yourself on minimum wage/etc..." Food should be free. We, especially on the West Coast, but really all over the world can produce enough to make sure every man, women, and child could have their nutritional needs met, if the governments of the world simply subsidized real food to the extent they do banks, cars, oil, etc. So when I hear this argument, all i can think of is how inundated people are with capitalism and the need to make a profit.
I think raising the minimum wage is the stupid/simple solution for politicians who are afraid to make the big leap, and that is to provide as a people the basic right of everyone alive to food, shelter, clothing, and healthcare.
By taxing the super rich and redistributing the planets resources in a more even and fair way, we could easily provide this, not just in our own country but around the world.
And for all you pull yourself up by your own bootstrappers out there. Providing everyone an even play field, meaning we all have decent education, food, shelter, and healthcare, the free market competition you hold to so dearly would be even more rampant and unabated. With more people able to participate. Isn't that what capitalism is all about?
Goldy - when ALL prices on everything go up 20%, how will that effect people who's wages won't go up? Because the $15 proposal you and Sawant are pushing won't just effect McDonald's, but also grocery stores, coffee shops, bookkstores, gas stations, etc. Look at Australia - they raised their minimum wage to $16, and the cost of living is 30-50% higher than the US.

Less than 8% of Seattleites will get a raise with the new minimum wage. The other 92% will get higher prices. 20% higher prices are no big deal right? I mean, especially if you make $40,000 per year and have a kid, you should be able to pay more for childcare, groceries, and gas. Fuck you if you can't. You should move out of Seattle, right Goldy?
PS - Goldy, as usual your analysis is also naive and incomplete. When wage rise, it's not just the cost of retail goods that will rise. The cost of wholesale goods will rise as well. Local suppliers will also raise prices, so Seattle businesses will get an increase in the cost of goods, as well as the cost of labor. For labor intensive industries like full service restaurants, coffee roasters, hotels, venues, etc, that means they'll be hit twice and will have to increase prices to cover both cost increases. So 20% is more like the minimum increase you'll see.

Also, while a 20% increase on a $1 item isn't much, for those of us living on Capitol Hill who drink $10 drinks, and eat $15 meals at restaurants, the increases will be be much higher. We won't see an increase in the price of the things we buy from local retailers, because they won't be open any longer. So no issues there.
Good Forbes Article on Subject.
Fast food workers are hitting the streets in cities across the country, walking out from their jobs, demanding higher wages. Many of these protesters want $15 an hour. President Obama and other Democrats decreed $10.10 is the correct minimum wage for now, up from the current federal standard of $7.25. That would be a whopping 39 percent pay increase.

Money (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

As a former fast food worker whose parents took temporary welfare assistance during my childhood, my heart is with them. But facts prove their protests ring hollow. At its core, a minimum wage hike is a temporary, Band-aid fix to a deeper, chronic problem. And it generates unintended consequences that ripple far beyond that temporary fix, including encouraging teenagers to drop out of school to pursue those tantalizing, higher-wage jobs. In a rhetorical war where the left employs demagoguery about the lives of low-income workers, the right can show it’s fighting for holistic, empowering approaches to improving quality of life for these folks.

Proponents for $10.10 don’t exactly say where that number comes from; it’s an increase that grossly exceeds productivity strides among minimum wage workers. So tongue in cheek, I ask why not raise it to $100 while we’re in the business of throwing out random wages? Obviously no serious factions are lobbying for this, but the left is lathering up a slippery wage slope. They essentially want to impose controls on the price of labor; we know Richard Nixon’s well-meaning price controls turned into a botched social experiment.

Some say $10.10 is roughly where wages would be if they followed inflation, though this doesn’t take into account the inflationary domino effect that would be triggered by a nationwide jump in prices resulting from the wage hike. Its well-intentioned premise fails to protect against the likely hundreds of thousands of jobs lost and billions shaved from real GDP under an artificial wage bump, effects modeled out by The Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk and John Ligon.

During his speech calling for wage hikes, Obama claimed the minimum wage, “in real terms right now is below where it was when Harry Truman was in office.” Yet the non-partisan site found Obama’s claim applied to just one year of Truman’s eight-year presidency (the sixth year, 1950). Obama’s misleading speech also ignores the fact that his proposed $10.10 wage would be a 53 percent increase over the $6.62 average real-wage since 1950. Our economy obviously would crumble if all workers demanded a 53 percent hike for their labor.

Taking a step down from the heated, Ivory-tower jousting between economists let’s boil down the purpose of minimum wage increases: to make life better for those floundering in the low-income end of the labor pool. Take for example, Akilarose Thompson, the 24-year-old, African-American woman interviewed by The Guardian who, until a recent three-cent pay increase, has supported her 18-month-old baby on a McDonald’s minimum wage and food bank donations. Thompson told The Guardian that to make ends meet she took a time-consuming second job that caused her to drop her collegiate studies in homeopathy. “It would be life changing,” she said of her desired pay raise, which she believes would enable her to escape a drug-infested neighborhood. Yet Thompson’s difficult struggles could be exacerbated by the wage she’s seeking. Capitalistic forces reward what an individual contributes to the economy; artificially hiking Thompson’s pay could move the goal post further from her reach, since there’s a very real chance she could lose her job entirely. Minimum wage hikes tend to hurt the youngest, most vulnerable employees, so Thompson’s life quality would slip further as her more seasoned co-workers receive that pay bump and she gets a pink slip.

Democrats’ rhetoric tries for the moral high ground. But it’s naive. Functioning markets are inherently morally neutral, like a machine or computer.That’s what makes them work. Leftists want to tinker with the economic machine, and their results crush human ingenuity and flourishing. It would be like a non-scientist telling a lab expert to insert a serum into her vaccine because he thinks it’s morally right. The resulting vaccine is toxic, despite his venerable intentions.

What’s actually moral is letting markets to function as freely as possible and helping disadvantaged players get the skills they need to advance beyond low-skill jobs. The political right effectively promotes the entrepreneurial spirit for those who understand the economic machine. But it can better help people like Thompson get the tools she needs to empower herself by understanding the economic machine. Obama’s publicly supported the exciting promise of tools like massive open online courses (MOOCs), which allow people like Thompson to study and understand the economic engine for an industry of her choosing. Obama’s energy fighting for $10.10 is better spent fighting for a reformed education system, particularly an economic education system, since pityingly few students get business and economic training in schools to lift themselves from poverty.

Even if he wasn’t a teetotaler, Americans didn’t want a beer with Mitt Romney. But he was the candidate who could run a beer brewery operation like nobody’s business. The right needs people with Romney’s technocratic economic prowess coupled with Ronald Reagan’s soaring optimism to make the moral case for leaving labor markets alone and giving low-income people the powerful educational tools they need to create solutions for a lifetime instead of bouncing from one artificially-inflated paycheck to the next.
The Absurdity Of A $15 Minimum Wage
Forbes article

It’s a reasonable bet that if the Editorial Board of the New York Times agrees with an economic policy then it’s a bad policy that shouldn’t be enacted. Sadly it’s only a reasonable bet: they’ve not got the perfect 100% error score of Slate. But you would win on rejecting their comments on the minimum wage today. For they are recommending that the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour: a truly absurd notion.

A half-century ago, the marchers called on Congress to increase the minimum wage from $1.15 an hour to $2 “so that men may live in dignity,” in the words of Bayard Rustin, one of the chief organizers of the march. Today, the fast-food workers also seek a raise, from the $9 an hour that most of them make to $15.00 an hour. That’s not much different from what the marchers wanted in 1963; adjusted for inflation, $2 then is $13.39 an hour today.

And then they tell us that the workers are right:

March On Washington Needed For Economic Inequality: Four Talking Points For A New American Dream
John Wasik

Big Questions About The Impact Of A Minimum Wage Hike That Aren't Being Asked
Adam Ozimek

As Obama Pushes For Minimum Wage Increase, Billionaire Charles Koch Rails Against It With Media Campaign
Clare O'Connor
Forbes Staff
The Real Change In The Cost Of A Big Mac If McDonald's Workers Were Paid $15 An Hour: Nothing
Tim Worstall
In the decade from 2002 to 2012, wages have stagnated or declined for the entire bottom 70 percent of the wage ladder. The marchers had it right 50 years ago. The fast-food strikers have it right today. Washington has it wrong.

As I say, this is simply an absurd demand. There would be very large unemployment effects from such a raise meaning that many people would simply lose their jobs.

Just as a minor example of their carelessness with the facts there’s this:

The strikers are targeting their employers — profitable companies like McDonald’s, Yum Brands (which includes Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC) and Wendy’s.

Almost none of the fast food workers are employees of those companies. For the way the industry works is that the main company contracts with franchisees who run the actual stores. The employees are then the employees of those franchises. There is no employment contract at all between the worker and those large companies: and those companies cannot determine the wages the workers get either. To get that sort of thing wrong in an editorial in the NYT is near unforgiveable. What’s worse though is that they’ve entirely failed to understand the economic points being made in this debate.

Media Matters can help us out here though through their own refusal to understand what is actually being said:

Contrary to industry officials’ claims, economic studies have concluded that raising the minimum wage has no effect on employment.

No, that’s not what economic studies have concluded. Rather, they have concluded this:

In a Center for Economy and Policy Research report titled “Why Does the Minimum Wage Have No Discernible Effect on Employment?” senior economist John Schmitt determined that there is “little or no employment response to modest increases in the minimum wage.”

“Minimum wages have no effect on employment” and “modest increases have little effect” are just not the same statement. And do note that the current demand is for a more than doubling of the minimum wage: something that we cannot describe as modest.

I’ve run through the problems with the minimum wage many a time on this blog before. I’ve looked at Nick Hanauer’s argument for a $15 an hour minimum wage. Of overestimating the effect on the rest of the economy of the extra spending power of a rise in it. On the way that people say a higher minimum wage would make people more productive. It could do so indeed: but another way of making the same statement is that if you’ve more productive workers then you need fewer of them: our employment effects. I’ve mentioned Paul Krugman’s argument against a general rise reducing staff turnover. Talked about how even good economists seem to go awry on this subject. The mixture of people who earn the minimum wage: most are actually earning tips as well. I’ve even pointed out that we do see the unemployment effects of the minimum wage in teen unemployment. As we can also see it in New Zealand and the UK. I’ve even pointed out what was wrong in the Card and Krueger paper that started the current speculation that the minimum wage doesn’t reduce employment.

But the really important point that needs to be made is here.

It is absolutely true that modest increases in the minimum wage have small effects on employment. In fact, given that we measure employment with error bars of 150,000 each way, the reason that we don’t see any effects is because even the predicted effects are smaller than those error bars: we can’t see the information for the noise that surrounds it. But economics does insist that things happen at the margin and the fact that a small change has small effects does not mean that a large change will still have small effects. So what we’d like to know is what is the level of a minimum wage where it starts to have large effects?

The actual state of knowledge of the impact that the minimum wage has on employment in North America, and especially in Québec, leads to the conclusion that a minimum wage that is greater than 50% of the average wage is harmful to small wage earners and that a minimum wage that is less than 45% has very little risk for this group of workers. Between these limits, the area of 45% to 50% would represent an increasing danger to employment.

There’s our cut off point. 45 to 50% of the average wage: go above that level and we’re harming low paid workers (by making them no longer workers) not helping them. And the median hourly wage for the US is $16.71. The proposal for a $15 an hour minimum wage will make the minimum wage 90% of the median hourly wage: at which point we know very well that we’ll be harming low income workers, not aiding them.

A $15 an hour minimum wage is an absurdity.
Politicians use it because it sounds good, not because it works. The public needs to become more educated on the subject before they decide (while not letting the market decide) on what to do with the minimum wage. No studies have been done with drastically increasing the minimum wage. Basic economics would tell you this is not a good idea. You could close small business and thus create further unemployment, unskilled workers will loose their jobs. Automation will soon become a more viable option. Increased inflation. Would be a deterrent for small business growth. They would like to change focus to a moral fight. The problem is they will hurt more than they will help.
Thank you Goldy! this is exactly the sort of calculation that i was looking for. even if it's only a back-of-the-envelope estimation. One @#$'n quarter a burger is all these folks are asking. if anyone is too @#$'n cheap to fork over that when they're stuffing their mouths... *and* the @#$'n top execs keep their ludicrous compensation...

thank you!
@26, Cost of living is higher but wages are also higher. Bottom line is *standard* of living is higher in Australia.

The reason why people cite McDonalds and other restaurant businesses is because those businesses have a high labor cost when compared to others. If McDonald's has to raise prices 20% (in fact it is closer to 10%) then your local grocery store should need to raise prices even less.

More to the point, the social benefit of raising the minimum wage (and the subsequent upward pressure on all other wages) far outweigh the increase in material goods. Such as decrease in crime rates, decrease in social spending, increases in economy..etc..etc.

You and @27 probably still subscribe to 'trickle down' economics and 'austerity'.
so far increases in the minimum wage haven't increased prices one cent. A little thing called supply and demand might be the explanation, IDK. In Spokane fast food businesses are doing better than before the minimum wage went up over nine dollars, across the border in Idaho not so much, maybe people with more money can afford to feed their kids that garbage.
Goldy, the price wont go up 20%, it wont go up at all in the long run as long as inflation is super low to below zero.
@20, I'm one of those that hope you lose your cushy job and get to be homeless for a while so you can pull your head out of Ludwig von Mises's ass.
@2: Who ever said anything about stopping there and why does this comment pop up in every thread about this subject?
@13: That sounds like the free market in action to me. I thought your kind loved the free market.
@35, @2 -

That comment always pops up because of the standard, "your idea won't work, because if I pretend your logic supports 1000 times your idea, it won't work."

It's a red herring, in other words. "Hey I think we should cut down on fossil fuels because Global Warming." Response, "so we're all going to ride horses and live in the dark now, that's what you're saying, right?" OR "hey, we should recycle." Response, "So you're saying we can never ever throw anything away ever, which won't work, so we're going to do nothing."

yadda, yadda, yadda

It's a tired, tired, intellectually lazy old trope that someone always pulls out, to distract from a substantive debate on something they either hate thinking about, or fear they will lose the argument on.
i bet if fast food nation allows a few more downer cows into the meat grinder it can keep the cost down to 99 cent a burger. home of the brave yo!
I'm so fucking tired of selfish assholes quoting "basic economics" or "econ 101" as their reason for keeping poor people down. You do realize that there's more to economics than just the introductory material, right?

The problem of raising prices for fast food is that the people who work there...are also it's biggest customers. So you're robbing Peter to pay Paul.

What you need is a chain of Gourmet Burger drive thrus, that sell those $56 dollar creations that SLOG occasionally features, to extract cash from Daddy Warbucks in his Lex.
#39 "I'm so fucking tired of selfish assholes quoting "basic economics" or "econ 101" as their reason for keeping poor people down."

Me too. I'm sick of the excuse of the law of gravity for not allowing people to just jump up and fly somewhere rather than walk.

I'm also sick of the second law of thermodynamics which keeps our fuel tanks from refilling as our cars coast downhill.

Let's have a referendum to repeal these archaic and oppressive legislative abominations.
#36, I'm a democrat, too, so, no, "my kind" doesn't love the free market. I just hate a stupid, myopic progressive plan as much as I hate a stupid, myopic conservative one, and I think this change will have absolutely no impact on large corporations (which is why I said businesses making over a certain amount should be required to pay the increase), while small businesses should be exempt. This across the board requirement is only going to increase the number of small business closures in the city, and "our kind" REALLY hates to see that.
And #36, defending your progressive proposals by embracing conservative principles (so you're cool with allowing a free market economy that supports corporate takeover then) is incredibly weak.
@41 Actually, basic economics is in favor of more people having more pay and is actually in favor of raising the minimum wage.

The Chicago School of Economics is dead. Reagan's Voodoo Economics is dead.

Long live John Maynard Keyes
@46 I hope that the $15/hour minimum wage passes for every employee in Seattle. We will then be able to see which economic theories are alive and which are dead.

We won't get a true experiment because the smarter of the law's proponents will gut it by limiting its application to a few classes of employer, thereby avoiding a complete debacle.
@26, some of the other major reasons for the cost of living being higher in Australia is that it is a small market a long way from everywhere else, with high import taxes and a comprehensive public welfare, education and healthcare system. There is no risk of Seattle introducing any of these important conditions and so your argument is not really relevant.
Fast food is artificially cheap because it's already artificial, unhealthy crap. Eliminate these "cheap" over-processed fast foods altogether, and our shamefully for-record-profit healthcare system costs could very likely go down, too. Why? Everyone (with the exception of those who love fast food, and who are neither negatively effected by its health hazards, nor care if they are) would then be consuming actual FOOD, not chemicals, preservatives, carbohydrates, processed wheat, sugar, and a gross overabundance of high fructose corn syrup.
Imagine a healthy nation of people eating healthy, minimally processed food. I say let's serve the crap to the Koch brothers--they deserve it.

If this were to pass for all businesses, I think you'll find a lot of small business entry level positions becoming unpaid internships. So students who were once able to learn a skill at their $10 an hour job (such as the receptionist at the yoga studio who spends most of her day there reading/doing homework but gets to also update and write the marketing copy for the website) will now be earning nothing, if the opportunity will even exist at all, since the owner may decide to do the work herself.

Most entry level copywriting jobs pay less than $15 an hour, and I can easily see those turning into unpaid internship "opportunities."
Reagan admin was poli-economic genius. Sucked up world's capital and injured domestic labor and 3rd world via high interest rates, and stimulated economy via military spending. I think that's a one-time trick, though, 'cause the debts/deficits are so big, after locomotive idiot Bush 2, that high interest rates might be untenable and force destabilizing austerity

also correct about wealth effects: in the last 30 years spending on rich people shit like complicated healthcare procedures and niche research, university campus pimping, ski-lift manufacture, assembly and operation has increased a lot
No, folks. I generally agree with the sentiment of this article, and most of the comments, but the math in it is all wrong. That's what happens when journalists attempt to dabble in financial analysis without knowing what they're doing.

So if you raise the labor costs 60% (the premise in the article) and that's 33% of costs, yes, that requires a 20% price increase. And then, because of the 20% price increase, sales volume goes down. That's true even if all chains have the same cost pressure. Fast food is a fungible category, easily replaced by a different option (cooking at home, skipping that unhealthy snack altogether). As such it is certainly highly elastic, meaning that the 20% price increase would almost certainly lead to a greater than 20% decline in demand. But probably not enough to allow CSRs to cut back on staffing or hours; they still want to provide service and availability up to their historical standards, or risk losing even more sales. So labor becomes a fixed cost, and as sales declines, its percentage of all costs (starting at 33%, by the article's premise) will increase, potentially dramatically. That then requires a greater price increase, and so on, in a vicious circle.

The alternative, as sales volumes go down, IS to figure out a way to cut back on labor proportionally, to maintain it at 33% of costs. That's hard to do; the 33% depends on it being a high volume business. But even if you could, whether it's laying individuals off, cutting hours for all, or hiring fewer, that offsets the social benefit of the higher wage in the first place.
Dominick was working for me, $14.50 an hr. Health insurance, training, every opportunity to thrive. He just continued to schlep around and piss that a working man's wage started at $15/hr., not that he actually knew anything about working men. So, I fucking fired his ass.
GOLDY please stop using the word "plethora"
when used in your writing it gives me gas.
Your assessment is true only as long as the raw materials for the restaurant are made outside of Seattle. Those people who make the paper wrapper, ketchup, pickles, ect are still making a lower wage elsewhere.

Your assessment is based upon the assumption that only 20% of fast food operating costs comes from labor costs. But that means IN HOUSE labor costs.

Raw materials are basically free, they come fee from nature, but their cost arises from those folks who harvest, manage, extract, refine, process, and transport those materials. So in a sense, 100% of the cost of a product is labor.

If there was a nationwide increase of minimum wage, the cost of fast food would be way higher than 20%.
Your assessment is true only as long as the raw materials for the restaurant are made outside of Seattle. Those people who make the paper wrapper, ketchup, pickles, ect are still making a lower wage elsewhere.

Your assessment is based upon the assumption that only 20% of fast food operating costs comes from labor costs. But that means IN HOUSE labor costs.

Raw materials are basically free, they come fee from nature, but their cost arises from those folks who harvest, manage, extract, refine, process, and transport those materials. So in a sense, 100% of the cost of a product is labor.

If there was a nationwide increase of minimum wage, the cost of fast food would be way higher than 20%.
You really can't see the big picture can you?
If the minimum wage goes up, it doesn't just go up for McDonalds employees. You stoopid, stoopid fool, it will create a ripple effect across the entire supply chain of McDonalds.

All of the costs associated with the business goes up. If the minimum wage goes up, all the suppliers of McDonalds will have to raise the wages of their employees too. They will pass that cost onto McDonalds.

The cost increase goes way beyond the cost of McDonald's labor.
What utter nonsense. The government, be it national, state, or city, has absolutely no right to dictate wage rates to business owners.