Sepulveda struggles to get assigned as many shifts per week as possible, but even if she had the chance to work 40 hours per week (a rarity), that would at most equal $15,080 per year. In other words, the CEO of McDonald’s makes 580 times more than Nathalia Sepulveda. But no one can seriously think he works 580 times harder than Sepulveda or any of the other workers who serve customers, flip burgers, and clean restrooms at McDonald’s across the country and the world. In fact, it’s hard to imagine Skinner working 100 times harder than Sepulveda. Or even 10 times harder.
But such is the landscape of low-wage jobs in America today, which proliferate not because our economy is universally dire but because it is unequal. Research by Northeastern Universityhas shown that 88 percent of the economic-recovery gains following the 2008 crash went to corporate profits. Just 1 percent went to wages. While small businesses across our great nation are working to rebuild profits at the same time as they hire more workers for good pay and benefits and therefore rebuild local economies with more spending and security, big corporations have figured out that they can rebound their profits while keeping worker wages and benefits perpetually suppressed. This is the new new, and it’s as ugly as a slimy pile of industrial mystery meat.