Boston-Area Fast Food Chain Pays Average Boston-Area Wages, Brags About It

A blog about business and economics.
Aug. 30 2013 10:58 AM

Boston-Area Fast Food Chain Pays Average Boston-Area Wages, Brags About It

BOSTON - JUNE 11: Boston is a great city for boats and high-wage burrito manufacturing.

Photo by PA3 Kelly Newlin/U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images

Bryce Covert sings the praises of the (relatively) high-wage labor market strategy of Bolocoo, a Boston-based burrito chain which "pays its entry-level workers anywhere from $9 to $11 an hour, most of them making $10."

That is excellent for them. But if you look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics' page on fast food cooks it turns out that in Massachusetts (where most Bolocoo restaurants are located) the average wage for a fast food cook is $10.16 an hour. Of Bolocco's six non-Massachusetts locations, one is in Vermont—one of the only states where the average wages for fast food cooks are higher than the average wages in Massachusetts.


Which is just to say that Bolocoo is basically doing what every other company is doing—it's paying market wages. It happens to be a chain whose home base is an unusually affluent, unusually high-wage state with an unusually high level of educational attainment. Of course Bolocco could offer below-average wages and try to get by with sub-standard personnel for a Bay State fast food operation. But since Bolocco's market niche is intended to be somewhat upscale that would be a poor alignment with the nature of the food that they serve.

There's absolutely a success story here, but I'd say it's primarily a success story about Massachusetts or New England more broadly. If you have a prosperous region and a well-educated population, then magically even low-status jobs start paying more. Unfortunately, those Bolocoo workers will probably find that the wage premium they earn relative to fast food cooks in Tulsa are clawed back by Greater Boston's expensive housing. Ultimately to get higher wages we need to build more housing in the high wage regions, with Bolocco's home base high on the list.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.


Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Republicans Like Scott Walker Are Building Campaigns Around Problems That Don’t Exist

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

The World

Iran and the U.S. Are Allies

They’re just not ready to admit it yet.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 4:08 PM More Than Scottish Pride Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 1:27 PM The Veronica Mars Spinoff Is Just Amusing Enough to Keep Me Watching
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 1:48 PM Why We Need a Federal Robotics Commission
  Health & Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.