Could You Survive on Fast-Food Wages? Try Our Calculator

Find out if you and your family could get by on a McDonald’s paycheck.

Chief among the demands made by the hundreds of fast-food workers who walked out of their jobs this week: A raise to a “livable” wage of $15 an hour. Currently, the median hourly wage for the cooks, cashiers, and crew who deliver your value meals is $8.94, according to a new report from the National Employment Law Project. That’s hardly enough to get by in most cities.

And while $15 might sound like a big jump, it’s still not enough to meet living wage standards in many areas. Many fast-food workers are parents raising children, which significantly boosts their day-to-day expenses. And many are part-timers; on average they work about 24.5 hours per week.

How would you and your family fare on a typical fast-food paycheck? How much does it really take to make ends meet in your city or state? Use this calculator to get a better sense of what fast-food workers are up against.

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DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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