MONEY Raises

7 Reasons It’s a Great Time to Ask for a Raise

John Gillmoure—Corbis

The sluggish job market is finally kicking into high gear, and that's good news if you are itching for a decent raise this year.

Stocks have been on a bull run since 2009, corporate earnings are soaring, and the housing market is surging. Now the latest economic reports show that the sluggish job market is finally catching up to the rest of the economy.

If you’ve been thinking about making your pitch for a raise, here are seven reasons why now might be the right time.

1. Job openings are highest in more than a decade. After rising for five straight months, the number of available jobs hit 4.7 million, the highest since February 2001, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, out Tuesday.

2. Competition for jobs is less stiff. There are two unemployed workers per job opening, down from three in the fall and seven during the height of the financial crisis.

3. The number of people quitting jobs—a sign that workers are more confident in landing a new one—is at 2.5 million, the highest since June 2008.

4. The number of jobs being created rose by more than 200,000 for the sixth straight month in July, the longest string of gains since 1997. Meanwhile, unemployment is the lowest since 2008, at 6.2%.

5. Raises are bigger. According to Mercer’s 2014/2015 US Compensation Planning Survey, the average raise in base pay is expected to be 3.0% in 2015, up slightly from 2.9% in 2014, 2.8% in 2013, and 2.7% in 2012. Workers rated above average, a group that accounts for 36% of the workforce, will get salary increases between 3.7% and 4.8% this year, according to Mercer.

6. Temp jobs are turning into full-time gigs. Conversions (giving full-time jobs to temporary workers) are at a three-year high, according to staffing agency Manpower.

7. Employers are really worried about losing talented workers. Turnover is up dramatically: 51% of employers are seeing workers leave, vs. 30% in 2012, according to OI Partners. Nearly three-quarters of employers say they are worried about losing highly skilled workers.

Of course, some of the optimism depends on what industry you’re in. For example, the average raise in the energy sector is projected to be 3.5%, vs. 2.8% for people who work in consumer goods, according to Mercer.

And while the picture is brightening for the long-term unemployed—the number of people without a job for six months or longer fell to 3.16 million in July, vs. 4.25 million a year earlier—it remains twice the number it was before the recession in 2007.

Still, economists are optimistic that salary increases, absent from the rebound in the job market, will finally kick in.

Wage growth is likely be “one of the big stories over the next 12 months,” says Capita Economics chief U.S. economist Paul Ashworth in his latest research note. Among positive signs: a sharp increase in the proportion of small businesses saying that they are planning to raise compensation. And a rising proportion of households in the Conference Board’s consumer confidence survey saying that they expect their incomes to rise, while fewer are saying they expect their incomes to fall.

Tomorrow: We’ll tell you the right moves to make to land a raise as the job market improves.

TIME real estate

You’re Not the Only One Who’s Having Trouble Paying Rent

Condo Towers Rise From Boston to Los Angeles in U.S. Rebound
The EVO condominium building stands in downtown Los Angeles on June 23, 2014. Patrick T. Fallon—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Average rents in big cities rose more than 5% in the 12-month period ending in June 2013, while wages rose a measly 1%

Rent prices are going up in cities across the country even as wages stagnate, making it ever harder to afford to live in big cities.

In the 25 largest rental markets in the country, rents rose faster than wages, according to the latest data published by the real estate website Trulia.

Miami, New York, Dallas and Phoenix and 21 other big cities saw average rent increases of 5.5% in June compared with the same month last year. Meanwhile, annual average wages increased nationwide just 1.0% in 2013 compared with 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The two data sets reflect slightly different time periods, but the trend is clear, said Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia: affordability is worsening.

“Wage data is up one percent,” said Kolko. “Rent is rising at a pace much faster than that.”

San Francisco had the highest median rent for 2-bedroom apartments, at $3,550, according to Trulia, while Miami residents paid the highest percentage of their wages on rent for an average 2-bedroom, or 62% of wages. New Yorkers paid 56% of their wages on rent, while on the other and of the spectrum, St. Louis residents forked out just 24%.

Rents are soaring in smaller cities like Denver (10.8% increase) and Atlanta (8.6% increase) as well.

San Francisco saw the highest increase in rents in June compared with last year at 13.8%.

MONEY inflation

Why the Fed Won’t Care About Higher Prices Until You Get a Real Raise

Stacks of food in bar graph
Tim Macpherson—Getty Images

Why rates are staying low even though your grocery bill is up.

Inflation is the buzz on Wall Street this week. The consumer price index recently topped 2% for the first time since late 2012. To be clear, that’s still very low. If you are a middle-aged American like me, inflation is lower than it’s been for most for your entire life.

Fed chair Janet Yellen says she’s not concerned about inflation yet—she calls the data “noisy.” Money’s Paul Lim has a deeper dive into that data and why the Fed isn’t raising rates here.

But maybe you are scratching your head about Yellen’s calm. You can certainly feel a pinch on regular shopping trips. Meat prices are through the roof. And now there’s even news that Starbucks will be charging more for your morning caffeine fix.

Part of the issue is that we probably notice what’s gone up more than what’s down. (The news media sure does.) There’s always something on the consumer price index spiking up. But then there’s usually stuff getting cheaper, too. The past year has seen a decline in the prices of bread, peanut butter and bananas. Furniture and appliances are cheaper. And men’s clothes cost less (but not women’s, oddly). Kids’ toys, televisions, and computers are bargains compared to last year. No, you can’t live just munching on PB&B sandwiches in front your new laptop (you shouldn’t, anyway)—even so, add all those little items up and they do count as important part of your cost of living.

More important, though, is that the Fed keeps its eye not just on prices but on what’s driving them. If coffee prices shoot up because of a drought in Brazil, you may feel a squeeze in your budget, but that’s not the broad inflation the Fed worries about. The classic driver of broadly rising prices is higher wages.

When you and I are able to get more pay, we spend more. That increase in demand makes it possible for companies to raise their prices. Then workers start looking for even higher pay to catch up to rising prices, and so on. As economist and Fed watcher Tim Duy notes in his takedown of “inflation hysteria” here, “If inflation accelerates while wage growth remains stagnant, demand will soften and so too will any incipient price pressures.”

And how is wage growth looking? Better, but not exactly on fire.

SOURCE: St. Louis Fed

Workers are just about staying ahead of prices, a little, and their real wages aren’t keeping up with productivity gains. And that’s for the ones with jobs: Unemployment remains on the high side, with lots of people missing from the labor force too.

The Fed will start worrying about price spikes, in short, when wages start moving too. That the Fed will wait to quash higher prices until you’re getting paid more sounds a little perverse. But the alternative—jacking up interest rates and throwing people out of work every time hamburger gets more expensive—would be a lot nastier.

TIME Business

8 Companies That Seriously Owe Their Employees a Raise

Pile of money
B.A.E. Inc.—Alamy

Should companies with higher profit margins pay employees better?

This post is in partnership with 24/7Wall Street. The article below was originally published on

With the stock market reaching new heights daily, companies’ profit margins at multi-decade highs, and falling unemployment, many Americans may be wondering when they will start to see the benefits of the U.S. economic recovery. For many workers, wages have remained stagnant even as the economy is making positive strides.

A number of America’s most successful companies employ large numbers of low-wage workers. These workers are hired to staff stores, call centers, and restaurants. These workers are typically paid hourly, and oftentimes earn little above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Oftentimes, these employees serve as the face of their companies and spend most of their workday interacting with consumers.

Click here to see the companies that owe their employees a raise

Not all employees at these companies are paid modest salaries. While customer account executives at Comcast earn $13.26 per hour on average, according to figures, stars of the company’s NBC television network shows were paid hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars a year. And while the average attractions cast member at Disney’s parks and resorts earned just $16.39 per hour, Disney also employs far higher-paid workers at its ABC and ESPN television networks.

Recently, a number of these companies have chosen to use their resources for massive deal making. In February, Comcast announced a deal to acquire Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion in stock value. In May, AT&T agreed to acquire DirecTV for $48.5 billion. Regulators have yet to approve the deals. Last year, Verizon signed on to an even bigger deal when it bought out British telecom Vodafone’s 45% stake in Verizon Wireless for $130 billion.

Of course, companies may not necessarily have an obligation to pay their employees a higher wage. If the recent spate of mega deals is any indication, companies can spend huge amounts to help provide better returns to their shareholders.

However, many argue that companies still spend too much in executive compensation. Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts earned more than $31 million last year in salary, stock options and awards, and other benefits. Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, received more than $100 million in total compensation from 2011 through 2013. Outsized salaries like these appear especially disproportionate when compared to low-wage workers.

Based on data provided by Capital IQ on S&P 500 companies, 24/7 Wall St. identified corporations with high operating income, high operating profit margins, and major one-year growth in operating income. In order to be considered, companies had to be in a customer-facing industry and have a large number of low-wage workers. We excluded financial companies, such as banks and thrifts, because the data we used to measure profitability is inadequate for judging the industry’s performance. Employee totals by company are from Yahoo! Finance. CEO pay is from filings submitted by public companies with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Figures on compensation are from and are self-reported by users to the website.

1. Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)
> 1-yr. stock price change: 48.3%
> 5-yr. stock price change: 359.9%
> Total employees: 51,200
> Total CEO compensation: $14.2 million

ime Warner Cable is one of the nation’s largest telecom companies, with revenue of more than $22 billion and operating income of $4.6 billion last year. Although Time Warner Cable is not growing especially quickly, it continues to generate large amounts of cash from its operations and return profits to shareholders. The company’s stock has been one of the S&P 500′s better performers over the past twelve months, up 48.3% in that time. Some of the stock price rally is the result of the company’s deal with Comcast, which agreed in February to acquire Time Warner Cable. The merger will combine the nation’s two largest cable operators. But while shareholders reap the benefits of the deal, many employees may be left in the lurch as a result. Part of the deal’s appeal is an estimated $1.5 billion in savings from operating efficiencies, which may include job cuts. According to, the average customer service representative at Time Warner Cable makes just $11.85 an hour, and the average inbound sales representative earns just $11.41 an hour.

ALSO READ: The States With the Strongest and Weakest Unions

2. Public Storage (NYSE: PSA)
> 1-yr. stock price change: 12.7%
> 5-yr. stock price change: 156.7%
> Total employees: 5,200
> Total CEO compensation: $9.2 million

Public Storage owns more than 2,200 self-storage facilities across the U.S. and Europe. Because of its low-cost business model, Public Storage recorded a nearly 50% operating margin in its latest fiscal year, higher than nearly all other companies in the S&P 500. Its earnings were actually higher than its operating income because of the earnings it recorded from its investments in Shurgard Europe, a European storeage company, and PS Business Parks, a U.S. commercial real estate company. While highly profitable, Public Storage pays the average relief manager just $10.57 per hour, and the average property manager only $10.50 per hour, according to

3. Michael Kors Holdings Limited (NASDAQ: KORS)
> 1-yr. stock price change: 49.7%
> 5-yr. stock price change: 290.3%
> Total employees: 9,184
> Total CEO compensation: $7.6 million

Michael Kors’ retail operations have grown rapidly in recent years, with comparable store sales up 26.2% last year, due largely to increased sales of accessories and watches.The company also added more than 100 new stores in most recent fiscal last year. Alongside the expansion, total operating expenses increased considerably during fiscal 2013 by about $331 million. As a percent of revenue, however, the company’s operating costs actually declined. While the overall dollaramount allocated to salaries increased from the previous fiscal year, Kors sales associates are paid an average of just $10.37 per hour, according to, although they can also earn commissions.

Click here to see the rest of the list.

More from 24/7 Wall St.

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Why Whole Foods Is Losing Customers


MONEY The Economy

The Shrinking Role of Wages

Senior woman looking at Social Security check
A social security check arrives in the mail Donald Higgs—Getty Images

As the population ages and workers get displaced, a smaller portion of income is derived from actual work.

For Americans, work is becoming less and less important.

Today, wages and salaries make up only 50.5% of overall personal income, according to a new Wells Fargo Securities report. That’s down from almost 60% in 1980.

You can blame some of this on changing demographics, including the aging of the population and government programs that direct transfer payments to certain groups.

Take Medicare and Social Security. In the beginning of 2007, 80% of people between the prime working ages of 25 to 54 was employed. Today that number is down to 76%.

image (1)
Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve and the Labor Department

While the Great Recession lowered demand for workers, “the aging of the baby boomers and longer life expectancies have pushed the share of the population age 65 and older to a record high,” writes Wells Fargo economists John Silvia and Sarah House.

Almost one in seven Americans is 65, according to the U.S. Census, compared to 12.4% in 2000. More Americans over the age of 65 means more Americans receiving Social Security and Medicare.

Then there’s help for the disabled and poor. “Increased eligibility and use of social insurance programs such as disability insurance and food stamps have also prompted the rise in transfer payments,” note Silvia and House.

Right now there are more than 14 million Americans who are deemed disabled by the Social Security Administration.

Consider this from NPR’s Planet Money’s excellent series on disability:

Part of the rise in the number of people on disability is simply driven by the fact that the workforce is getting older, and older people tend to have more health problems.

But disability has also become a de facto welfare program for people without a lot of education or job skills. But it wasn’t supposed to serve this purpose; it’s not a retraining program designed to get people back onto their feet. Once people go onto disability, they almost never go back to work. Fewer than 1 percent of those who were on the federal program for disabled workers at the beginning of 2011 have returned to the workforce since then, one economist told me.

Or take food stamps. Since 1969, the number of people on food stamps has increased by a factor of 16.

The share of income derived from transfers has increased from 12.5% in 2000 to 17.3% today, according to Wells Fargo Securities.

A lousy job market in the aftermath of the recession has left millions without work — 36% of today’s unemployed have been without a job for over 27 weeks, compared to 12.1% in 2000. And that abundance of available labor, writes Silvia and House, “has kept wage growth muted, restraining labor income even as hiring has improved.”

image (2)
Sources: St. Louis Federal Reserve and the Labor Department

For the overall economy, “the general diversification of income sources adds to the stability of consumer spending over time,” House says. “In particular, transfer payments have becoming an increasingly important share of income and have helped to smooth income/spending throughout the business cycle and Americans’ life cycle.”

MONEY The Economy

Why Slacking Off Is Good for Your (Short-term) Job Security

(left to right) Adam Devine, Blake Anderson, Anders Holm in Season 3 of "Workaholics" on Comedy Central. courtesy of Comedy Central

Productivity in the first quarter plummeted. As demand grows in this recovery, this should force companies to start hiring—at least in the short term.

If you’re reading this story while on coffee break, take your time. Take another sip. Linger over the words. Why be in a rush to get back to work?

A new government report released Wednesday showed that in the first quarter, overall productivity in the business sector fell by 3.2%, a much bigger drop than was initially thought. In fact, this marked the worst slide in productivity since the global financial crisis in 2008, when companies began laying off workers in droves, eventually doubling the nation’s unemployment rate.

This time, however, a collective slack off may be just what the job market needs — at least in the short run.

Actually, a substantial body of academic research shows that over long periods of time, rising productivity leads to job creation, not destruction. In fact, a McKinsey & Co. report found that in all but one 10-year rolling period since 1929, the U.S. economy witnessed both rising productivity and rising employment. This makes sense: Over time, rising productivity helps expand output and profits, which grows the economy, which creates more demand, which eventually leads to the need to higher more workers.

But there are times when this virtuous cycle gets broken. For instance, in the financial crisis. Since then, the recovery has been so slow to pick up that companies could get by without hiring and simply squeezing more work out of their existing employees. This explains why even in a soft economy, companies in the S&P 500 index are posting record high profits.

But demand in this economy, while still soft, has picked up lately, as seen here by the ISM Purchasing Managers Index, which captures (among other things) the pace of new orders:

ISM Purchasing Managers Index Chart

ISM Purchasing Managers Index data by YCharts

To meet this growing demand, companies have been boosting factory output, even as the average productivity of U.S. workers has slumped lately.

US Industrial Production Index Chart

US Industrial Production Index data by YCharts

The result: Employers have been forced to add to their payrolls, albeit incrementally, for fear of losing out on this new business.

US Change in Nonfarm Payrolls Chart

US Change in Nonfarm Payrolls data by YCharts

This reflects a nuance in the relationship between productivity and employment that was captured in a paper written a while back by economist Carl Walsh for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. In that report, titled The Productivity and Jobs Connection: The Long and the Short Run of It, Walsh writes that while higher productivity is correlated with job creation in the long run, the short run be an entirely different story:

If firms see the demand for their products rise, they respond by expanding production. And if labor productivity is unchanged, then typically they need to hire more workers to do this. But if labor productivity is increasing, then it has the potential to reduce employment growth, because the firm will be able to satisfy demand using fewer workers.

And right now, with productivity not just unchanged but falling, it looks like employers are going to need to start filling some empty cubicles to catch up.

MONEY Careers

What to Do When You Find Out You Earn Less Than Your Predecessor

Some sources say that the recent firing of New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson—shown here with her predecessor, Bill Keller, in 2011—was owed in part to her complaints about earning less than Keller. FRED R CONRAD—The New York Times/Redux

How to tell whether you should march into your boss's office -- or just suck it up.

Q: I just found out my predecessor made more than me. My boss doesn’t know I know. What should I do?

A: Before you work yourself up into a fury, keep in mind that “it’s unusual for someone to come into a role and make the same exact salary as the previous person in the job,” says Lydia Frank, editorial director at compensation data provider Also, there may be a good reason that you make less.

Many factors affect compensation. Employers typically stick within a general range for each position, and where you fall within that range depends a lot on what you bring to the table–your years of experience, your unique skill set and your education. Unless those attributes are identical to those of your predecessor, you shouldn’t necessarily expect to command the same salary. Additionally, as unfair as this may seem, the economy may play a role: The person you replaced may simply have been hired during more flush times at your company.

If after having weighed these factors you still see an imbalance, however, you should talk to your boss. But you’ll want to be careful about how you do it, as it can be a delicate dance to get your boss to see your side. (It’s been widely reported that one of the factors in the recent high-profile ouster of New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson was her complaints about earning less than the person she replaced.)

First, get some data behind you, since you want to avoid bringing up what you know about your predecessor’s pay. By mentioning that, “You’d be putting your boss on the defensive,” says Frank. “That’s not a conversation that’s likely to go well.”

There are several ways to find out what’s an appropriate income for your position. You can check salary sites, such as which crowd sources data on compensation, and, which posts company salary reports. You can also turn to your network and ask current or former colleagues for insight. (While it’s still taboo to talk about pay, it may be easier if you ask about a range.)

Then tell your manager that you’ve done some research on salaries in your position, and the data you’ve found indicates that you’re are at the low-end of the scale. From there, build your case about why you are a top performer and should earn more, using quantifiable examples of your successes and highlighting wins that align with your boss’s and the company’s goals. If your supervisor pushes back, ask what you can do to get to that next level: Get more training, add a particular skill or hit a sales target?

The bottom line: When it comes to your salary, what’s most relevant is whether you are making what you should based on the current market price for your position and your qualifications, not what the person before you earned.

TIME Workers

What McDonald’s Really Owes Its Workers

Simon Weller

This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at

At the McDonald’s annual shareholder meeting on May 22, CEO Don Thompson claimed that his company “has a heritage of providing job opportunities that lead to ‘real careers.'”

It’s true, former CEO Jim Skinner, who never graduated from college, joined the fast-food giant as a management trainee in 1971 and rose to the top spot in 2004.

But the McDonald’s of today does not seem like the same land of opportunity it must have been when Skinner got his start at the company.

You’d think time had stood still if you looked at the wages of Cherrie Velestine, 27, a 10-year veteran of the golden arches, who works in a North Charleston, S.C., restaurant. She started at McDonalds in 2004 at $7.35 an hour and despite putting in repeated requests for a raise, she has never received one in all the years she has worked there, she told me. Velestine is not the only fast-food worker with stagnant pay. A Demos report entitled “Fast Food Failure” found that fast-food “wages have increased just 0.3 percent in real dollars since 2000.”

Relying on workers like Velestine, from 2004 to 2013, McDonald’s has more than doubled its reported net income from $2.3 billion to $5.6 billion in its latest filing. If Velestine had received a pay boost at a percentage equal to McDonald’s rising net income, she’d be making $18.02 an hour right now and wouldn’t have had to travel to Chicago to ask for $15.

Velestine relies on food stamps and other family members’ help to survive and support her family. Although she has asked to work 40 hours a week, she only gets 28 – 29 hours, she told me.

MORE: What the future of work looks like

McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson, an electrical engineer by training who was born in 1963 and fortunate to have a grandmother who helped him through college, earned $9.5 million last year, the restaurant chain reported, more than double his earnings just two years ago. “The average hourly wage of fast food employees is $9.09, or less than $19,000 per year for a full-time worker, though most fast food workers do not get full-time hours,” Demos found.

Thompson’s pay for just one day (based on 365 days a year) in 2013 was 1.4 times the average annual rate of a full-time fast-food worker. McDonald’s did not respond to a request for a comment on worker pay issues. “‘We believe we pay fair and competitive wages,” Thompson said at the company’s shareholders meeting.

The Demos study found that the accommodations and food services sector, on average, has experienced higher levels of pay disparity than any other sector in the U.S. economy from 2000 to 2012 — and the CEO-to-average-worker pay ratio is highest in fast-food, having grown 470% over that time period.

The SEC has not yet finalized the Dodd-Frank requirement for disclosure of CEO-to-median-worker pay, so it’s impossible to compare McDonald’s CEO pay to the median or average McDonald’s worker pay, said Catherine Ruetschlin, the Demos study author.

Velestine says a raise to $15 an hour would mean a lot to her. “It would mean they appreciate me, and it would help me provide for my family without other people’s help,” she told me. She is determined to get her due: “We will never quit fighting until we get $15. We’ll be back until we get what we want.”

When Adriana Alvarez, 22, who has completed one year of college, joined a Cicero, Ill., McDonald’s in 2010, she says she was earning $8.50 an hour. Now, her pay is up to $9.15, a 7.6% increase. Meanwhile, the company’s earnings rose 13% from 2010 to 2013, and Thompson’s pay has risen 130% during that time.

A cashier and runner who also handles the drive-thru, Alvarez relies on government assistance and says $15 an hour would help her “provide a better future for her two-year-old son, a better place to live, with better schools.” Thompson no doubt knows the importance of such opportunities. “His grandmother, fearing growing gang activity … moved him to Indianapolis,” when he was 10 years old, the Chicago Tribune reported in 2012.

Alvarez and Velestine were both arrested at the protests on May 21, along with Dre Sinley, 24, who works part-time at a McDonald’s in the Tampa, Fla. area to supplement his full-time job at Arby’s and support his wife and five-year-old daughter. Sinley has an associate’s degree in criminal justice, but police jobs in Tampa are scarce. Despite working two jobs, his family must rely on food stamps. He had scholarships and grants to attend college, he says, but he also has student loans to pay off.

“Fifteen dollars an hour would allow me to provide for my family,” he says, “to not worry about paying the rent, buying clothes, or paying the electric bill. Today if the car breaks down, I can’t pay to fix it because I won’t be able to pay the other bills. There’s constant worry.”

Studies have shown that chronic, prolonged stress like the kind endured by the unemployed and low-wage earners leads to serious health problems and shortens lives. All three of the McDonald’s workers I talked to told me they do not receive company benefits like health insurance.

MORE: Millennial job applicants rejecting your offers? Here’s why.

Despite Thompson’s assertion that the home of the Big Mac offers fair pay, some restaurant analysts consider the issue a major risk for the industry. In an April 15 note, Barclays predicted wages “will be top of mind as we look to 2015.” An April 9 note by Citi analysts suggests that win-win wage solutions may be possible: “several franchisees … have raised prices to offset [an] increase [in labor costs] with no noticeable consumer pushback.”

Looking at the broader economy, minutes from the Federal Reserve’s meeting at the end of April show “the share of workers employed part time for economic reasons moved up” and “slack in labor and product markets [are] anticipated to diminish slowly.”

On April 23, a Citi analyst report using data from marketing firm MWW, showed that McDonald’s holds a very prominent position in social media, as measured by both “total audience strength” and “engagement.” As we roll into summer, this could be a boon or a blessing depending on how McDonald’s chooses to respond to millennial workers like Velestine, Alvarez, and Sinley. If employees are willing to engage in civil disobedience at corporate headquarters, can disruptive social media campaigns be far behind?

Eleanor Bloxham is CEO of The Value Alliance and Corporate Governance Alliance (, a board education and advisory firm.

TIME apps

Do UberX Drivers Really Take Home $90K A Year On Average? Not Exactly

WASHINGTON, DC - APR 4:  UberX driver, Michael Belet, a former
UberX driver, Michael Belet, a former Barwood driver, drives Nora Toiv to Alexandria, VA , April 7, 2014. Evelyn Hockstein—The Washington Post/Getty Images

The median salary for New York drivers touted by the mobile car-hiring app on Tuesday doesn't factor in a host of business expenses — and many uberX drivers in cities across the U.S. take home much less

Cellphone ride-hailing app Uber made headlines today with a study that suggests the median business income of its full-time uberX drivers—the company’s low-cost mobile service—was $90,766 a year in New York and $74,191 in San Francisco — and that’s after deducting Uber’s 20 percent commission fee.

But before you quit your job and don the chauffeur’s cap, note that spoiler word, “business” income.

Unfortunately, the figure excludes many of the costs of running a business, including gas, insurance, parking, maintenance and repairs and the original sale or lease price of the car which can take some hefty bites out of the driver’s take home pay. It also measures a median income among a particularly dedicated set of drivers, logging a minimum of 40 hours a week and sometimes much longer hauls.

Just how much those costs eat away at a driver’s take home wages is not easily gauged, according to Uber spokesman, Lane Kasselman. They can vary depending on the age of vehicle, the density of app users in the city, how many hours the driver puts in and what sort of customer ratings the driver receives. And for now that data, Kasselman says, is proprietary.

The data suggests many drivers think uberX is an attractive deal. The San Francisco Cab Drivers Association estimates that one-third of its membership, some 2,800 drivers, have abandoned registered cabs in favor of ride-fetching apps, where they can dodge fees owed to taxi companies and spend less time searching for riders in the street. “What we see are a lot of taxi drivers move over to the Uber platform and they are incredibly happy with their earnings results,” Kasselman said.

That assessment comes in stark contrast to a demonstration that a group of uberX drivers arranged earlier this month outside of the company’s San Francisco headquarters. They objected to commissions that they said amounted to “gouging” and one driver complained to TIME that he could barely scrape minimum wage earnings.

Uber contests that the protesters represent only a small faction among thousands of drivers who are, in effect, running independent businesses. Some are running them better than others. “We want to work with them to try to figure out how to improve their earning potential,” Kasselman said.

So the truth still lies somewhere in the vast expanse between minimum wage and $90,000, and no doubt is as varied as the businesses being run by the drivers’ themselves. If one thing is for certain, this disruptive app offers taxi drivers an alternative to the stable union contract, putting both the upsides and the downsides of the business in their hands. Whether that amounts to higher pay for most drivers remains a tricky calculation, certainly south of $90,7666 and still proprietary information.

TIME Fast Food

Protest at McDonald’s Headquarters Leads to Dozens of Arrests

Fast Food Workers Protest For Increased Wages Ahead Of McDonald's Annual Shareholder Meeting
Police hold back fast food workers and activists demonstrating at the McDonald's corporate campus on May 21, 2014 in Oak Brook, Ill. Scott Olson—Getty Images

Protestors held one of the largest-ever demonstrations against McDonald's wage policies a day ahead of a shareholder vote on executive pay

Over one hundred McDonald’s and other fast food employees demonstrating for wage hikes were arrested Wednesday afternoon one day ahead of the fast food king’s annual shareholder meeting, in which executive pay will be addressed.

A total of around 2,000 protestors gathered at McDonald’s corporate campus Wednesday afternoon in Oak Brook, Illinois to support a $15 hourly wage and the right to unionize. Protestors arrived in dozens of buses and lined up front of heavily armed police.

“We cannot survive on poverty wages. We need our wages to be increased and we need a union to have protection in the workplace and take care of our families,” 25-year-old McDonald’s employee Jessica Davis told TIME. She makes an hourly salary of $8.98 an hour. “McDonald’s is my only job. It’s really hard taking care of two children and paying the bills.”

Protestors called it the largest labor demonstration against the world’s largest fast food company.

McDonald’s told TIME last week that wages are set by local market conditions, adding that 80% of its restaurants are independently-owned and operated by small business owners. “McDonald’s and our owner-operators are committed to providing our respective employees with opportunities to succeed, and we have a long, proven history of providing advancement opportunities for those who want it,” said Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem, a spokesperson for the company.

Protestors said the 139 arrested demonstrators included clergy and organizing leaders like Rev. Donna Simon from St Mark Church in Kansas City and Service Employees International Union President.

McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson took home total compensation of $9.5 million in 2013, Reuters reports. The CEO-to-worker compensation ratio in the fast food industry was more than 1,000-to-1 in 2013.

Protestors claimed that the company shut the headquarters down altogether in order minimize a “public relations minefield” in the face of demonstrations. McDonald’s countered that claim, telling TIME it adjusted its headquarters’ working hours Wednesday for logistical reasons.

The demonstrations come as wage organizers ramp up pressure on fast food chains. President Obama has advocated raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from the current $7.25, and global protests last week drew additional attention to the cause.

“I’d be willing to be arrested,” Daisha Mims, a Memphis McDonald’s employee and mother of three who makes $7.60 told TIME. “We’re fighting for $15 to better support our families.”




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