Op-ed pick: Many big companies can’t afford to pay more than minimum wage

We asked our Roundtable guests to suggest an article they think our audience should read.

Syl Jones called this column by James Surowiecki “the best analysis I’ve seen about the fast-food living wage issue. It’s short but potent.”

(Retailers and fast-food chains) make plenty of money, but most have slim profit margins: Walmart and Target earn between three and four cents on the dollar; a typical McDonald’s franchise restaurant earns around six cents on the dollar before taxes, according to an analysis from Janney Capital Markets. In fact, the combined profits of all the major retailers, restaurant chains, and supermarkets in the Fortune 500 are smaller than the profits of Apple alone. Yet Apple employs just seventy-six thousand people, while the retailers, supermarkets, and restaurant chains employ 5.6 million. The grim truth of those numbers is that low wages are a big part of why these companies are able to stay profitable while offering low prices.

Brian Rosenberg says that the Itasca Project report on higher education in Minnesota is an important read:

Future economic growth and prosperity will require deeper and more relevant skills from the workforce and increased innovation from researchers, entrepreneurs, and businesses. It is estimated that Minnesota jobs requiring post secondary education will grow by nearly 8% from 2008 to 2018, while jobs requiring not more than a high school diploma will grow by only 3% over the same period. By 2018, 70% of Minnesota jobs will require post secondary education.