Apr 17, 2022 - Economy

Inflation comes for the Big Mac

Average price of a Big Mac in the U.S.
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 β€” 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.

πŸ” The Big (Mac) picture: McDonald's did not respond to requests for comment, but data from the Big Mac Index β€” which has been measuring the price of a Big Mac since the year the Oprah Winfrey Show debuted β€” 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 β€” 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 β€”where the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour β€” is home to the cheapest Big Mac in the Axios Local world at $3.75;

  • But 200 miles down the road, Dallas β€” with the same minimum wage β€” a Big Mac is selling for $5.69.
  • Seattle, Wash. β€” where the minimum wage is $17.27 an hour β€” has the priciest Big Mac we found, at $6.39.
Data:Β 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. β€” where the minimum wage is $11 an hour β€” I'm paying $4.89 for a Big Mac β€” just 10 cents less than folks in New. York. City. And I'm furious about it.

🍟 Reality check: These prices are for the burger-only β€” no fries. So what's the point?

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

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