Opinion by Shawn Spencer
For the first time that I can remember, every restaurant, be it fast food or sit-down, is hiring. Not only in Old Town, not only in Monrovia, but all over Southern California and beyond. A lot of people are blaming the lack of applicants on the unemployment benefits that many are still receiving. Others blame the restaurant industry for poor wages and working conditions.
The current minimum wage is $14 per hour; soon to be $15. What is a “fair wage” these days? It is pretty obvious that an adult cannot support themselves, let alone a family on $15 per hour. However, it is my opinion that these minimum wage jobs are not meant to. These jobs are meant for the high schooler, saving up for their first car. A college student looking for a part time job. These jobs were never meant to support families!
Now, we see fewer teens working these jobs and more adults trying to earn a living. Therein lies the conundrum. Is it fair for adults to expect and/or demand a higher rate of pay for the same job done by teens? Where is the breakdown in job training or career training for adults that did not follow the college path? How can we offer fair wages for employees without crippling small business owners?
Let’s think about it. Restaurants have a monthly overhead. There are fixed costs, like rent and electricity. There are cost of goods sold, like food. There are variable costs, like dish soap and plastic utensils. There are also labor costs. When there are shortages of beef, the cost of beef goes up. A hamburger that cost 9.99 might now cost 11.50. That same concept will apply to the cost of labor. With all the Help Wanted ads, and no one applying, we have seen things like “apply for a position and get a new iPhone, if hired” or “get a $500 bonus upon hire.” Not only that, but the people that were asking or expecting $15 per hour are now asking for $20 or more, because they know restaurant owners are potentially desperate. Now the staff that is already there wants a raise! When it is all said and done, your hamburger is $25, after tax. Can the restaurant owner expect to get that amount? Once? Periodically? What about regularly? He still has his fixed costs. He isn’t doing it for charity; he wants to make a profit, a living.
Our restaurants are newly opened to 100% capacity [insert very loud cheers]. We want them to stay that way. We also don’t want to spend $25 on a $12 burger. Send your teens out to apply for jobs. They need real life experience in the workforce. They need interview experience. They need practice interacting with the public, both the good and the bad. They need to learn how to work for awesome bosses and curmudgeons. Plus, a little spending money or saving up for something is never a bad thing.
One resource for people that are looking for training is the West San Gabriel Work Source Center https://www.sangabrielcity.com/102/Employment-Training-Development.
They will train you and may even offer cash reimbursements. There is also the East San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupational Program and the Monrovia Adult School.