Americans are getting more and more educated—and that has left a massive deficit of people willing to flip burgers in fast food joints.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research reported in a note to clients that the number of people attending and graduating from college is rising, while the number of people with a high school diploma or less is decreasing. In 2014, about 5.55 million students were enrolled in private colleges and 14.66 million in public colleges. And those with more education are not keen on working in the lowest rungs of fast food.
According to the report, cited by Business Insider, the cohort of 16- to 24-year-olds without a college education "has been declining since the start of this recovery, probably reflecting the continued push towards higher education, as well as demographics which has reduced the number of younger workers willing to flip burgers for a few years while they save for college."
More education is definitely a trend. According to census reports, in 2015, 88 percent of Americans had at least a high school diploma or GED, while 32 percent of American men and 33 percent of American women held a bachelor's or higher degree.
This rise in educated Americans—and the decline in those willing to flip burgers—has led to a rise in wages for people on the lower end of the economic spectrum. Employers are finding they have to pay more to get people to do menial work.
All of this may also mean that immigrants—who, traditionally, have been far more willing to take on jobs Americans don't want to do—are needed more than ever to fill the gap when it comes to fast-food jobs. Perhaps this new finding will help clarify what's at stake in America's frenzied debate over immigration. After all, what is at stake is the very ability to eat.