You know how people used to denigrate fast-food work as “McJobs“? It was always a little patronizing, but the wage picture is even harder to tease out now that In-N-Out revealed that the average manager makes more than $160,000 a year.
Founded in 1948 by Harry and Esther Snyder, the Irvine-based fast-food chain has always been different than its peers. Known for discreet Scripture verses on the inner bottoms of its cups and elsewhere, it’s a nice reminder that sometimes, American Christians do more than make up flimsy excuses for adulterous crypto-fascists. They can also be, like, you know, good people and stuff.
“In-N-Out is just eons above everybody else,” Saru Jayaraman of UC Berkeley’s Food Labor Research Center told the California Sun. “On wages and benefits, they really are the best large chain.”
Rewarding loyalty sounds almost comically anachronistic in our new Gilded Age, especially when measured against disposable gig-economy peons. Investing in people rather than shareholder growth might have something to do with In-N-Out’s slow rate of expansion. The company is set to open a distribution center in Colorado — as it never freezes its meat, every restaurant must be within a relatively short drive of one — and only recently unveiled a new menu item, hot cocoa.
And $160,000 is a lot of money, especially at a time when almost everyone else in America at that level has at least a college degree. As of Jan. 1, California’s minimum wage has been $11/hour for businesses with more than 25 employees, the second-highest in the nation after Washington State. (Many cities have higher wages, including San Francisco. The wage floor is currently $14/hour here, and it’ll go up a buck on July 1.) In-N-Out starts people at $13, offers dental insurance, comprehensive training, a 401(k), paid vacation time, and flexible work hours for its youthful workforce. Why even code?
For the record, Glassdoor ranks In-N-Out as the fourth-best place to work, a notch above perk-saturated Google. Facebook was No. 1. Capitalism is very strange sometimes.