Amid minimum wage debates, 1 Omaha restaurant will pay more

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Posted: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 12:00 am

I noticed the new Panda Express going up near 72nd and Dodge Streets is advertising for jobs starting at $10 per hour. It's not a fortune but it is quite a bit more than most fast food restaurants pay, especially for a starting wage. The mean wage in Nebraska for food preparation and serving workers including fast food workers is $8.79 per hour. For someone working a full 40-hour week, which is rare in restaurants, that works out to $18,290 a year.

I put in a call to Panda Express to ask what factors go into how they set wages and why they decided to pay more than most. I'll update this post if they call back. The restaurant told USA Today that it pays more because the food needs to be prepared with more care than most fast food, and the employees need to care about the quality of work they do.

The minimum wage in Nebraska is the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. MIT estimates a living wage in Nebraska to be $8.23 for one adult and $17.74 for one adult with one child.

Restaurant workers have been demonstrating this week in protest of low wages, as President Obama speaks in support of raising the minimum wage.

What do you think a fair wage is for fast food workers? Do you take wages into consideration when you decide where to eat?

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