Apr 17, 2022 - Economy & Business

Inflation comes for the Big Mac

Data: The Economist, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Axios research; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

Rising prices are hitting Americans where it hurts: the drive-thru.

Driving the news: Fast food menu prices are up 7.2% year-over-year, according to a report released this week by the National Restaurant Association. That's the biggest jump since 1981.

  • Prices at full-service restaurants are even higher โ€” they've gone up 8%, the biggest jump of any restaurant category.

Ballooning menu prices are being driven by the rising cost of food and labor, according to the report.

  • It cites a 15.1% year-over-year increase in the Producer Price Index, which measures the cost of domestic goods, as well as a 12.1% increase in average hourly earnings for restaurant employees.

๐Ÿ” The Big (Mac) picture: McDonald's did not respond to requests for comment, but data from the Big Mac Index โ€” which has been measuring the price of a Big Mac since the year the Oprah Winfrey Show debuted โ€” shows that the price of a Big Mac nationwide rose 7% from 2020 to 2021.

  • Big Mac prices have risen by a whopping 40% in the past 10 years, according to the index.

Zoom in: Menu prices vary across the country, and even within cities.

  • So we decided to make our own Big Mac Index, showing the price of McD's flagship burger in all of our Axios Local cities โ€” the 14 current ones and our 11 coming-soon ones, including my own.
  • And we compared those prices to each town's minimum wage.

Details: Austin, Texas โ€”where the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour โ€” is home to the cheapest Big Mac in the Axios Local world at $3.75;

  • But 200 miles down the road, Dallas โ€” with the same minimum wage โ€” a Big Mac is selling for $5.69.
  • Seattle, Wash. โ€” where the minimum wage is $17.27 an hour โ€” has the priciest Big Mac we found, at $6.39.
Data:ย Economic Policy Institute, Axios research; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios
Data:ย Economic Policy Institute, Axios research; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

And in the most expensive cities in the country:

  • A Big Mac in San Francisco, where the minimum wage is $16.32 an hour, is $5.79
  • In New York, where the minimum wage is $15 an hour, a Big Mac can be found on Broadway for $4.95
  • But in my town of Richmond, Va. โ€” where the minimum wage is $11 an hour โ€” I'm paying $4.89 for a Big Mac โ€” just 10 cents less than folks in New. York. City. And I'm furious about it.

๐ŸŸ Reality check: These prices are for the burger-only โ€” no fries. So what's the point?

๐Ÿ—ž This article is by Axios Richmond's Karri Peifer! Subscribe to the Axios Richmond newsletter (launching May 31!).

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