While there were tons of businesses that suffered staffing shortages in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the food service industry appears to have the most difficulty in keeping its stores filled with enough employees in order to maintain pre-pandemic operational standards.
And although hourly wage rates in this sector have increased almost across the board, it occurs at a time when the country is experiencing its worst inflation in 40 years. Then there's the fact that wages aren't keeping up with the rate of inflation, either, so it's not like workers who are receiving these pay increases are enjoying the added benefit of a higher per-hour rate.
And while a lot of discourse can be had regarding wage disparities, especially in a nationwide economic recession, one TikToker's short video post about how much he earns an hour versus how much customers pay for the beverages he makes, is, for many people, a perfect embodiment of the current state of the US economy now.
TikToker @augustoffline says in the clip, "It's actually so f**ked up that as a barista, someone can come up and order two drinks and that costs more than what I make in an hour. two drinks that I can make in two minutes and I make less than that in one hour."
Throngs of commenters responded to his post, stating that they've come to the same realizations at their own jobs. Several retail workers remarked that they still can't get over the shock of seeing customers come in and spend what they make in a week in a single transaction.
Others began berating Starbucks, but @augustoffline clarified he didn't work for the chain, but that "this issue is bigger than" a single franchise or company, but the state of the US economy and how much food service workers are paid as a whole.
Others highlighted how many in the food service industry are forced to rely on gratuities from customers to make ends meet., whereas some were shocked that they never even thought about their own jobs in this light.
There are several financial publications that discuss the benefits of being your own boss, and there are others that go into detail about the best ways to plan going that route. An argument can be made that the biggest reason why so many companies were willing to increase hourly wages for their employees is that they've had a difficult time staffing stores.
Since these locations have still stayed in business, an argument can be made that this very fact alone is indicative of corporations' ability to pay their workers more money.
There may be some who argue that business owners are the ones who bear the biggest financial risk when starting a new enterprise. Toast reports that it costs anywhere from $80,000-$300,000 to open up a coffee shop. Then there's the cost of materials, research, and development of products, maintenance costs, and of course, employee wages.
There are some businesses, however, that have taken to paying its employees uniformly across the board. Dan Price of Gravity Payments offers a minimum base salary of $70,000 for all workers regardless of the position in that they work. It seems that the strategy is working: his company, which handles credit card payments has seen a marked increase in the amount of money they process: from $3.8 Billion to $10.2 billion.
He posted a viral Twitter thread indicating the reasoning behind his decision and he actively urges other corporations to follow suit.