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McDonald's Most Iconic Item Will Likely Get More Expensive, Operators Say

Prices will need to go up to offset higher worker wages and benefits, as the chain still struggles with hiring.

Prices at McDonald's have been incrementally rising for years, but due to labor shortages currently being experienced across the fast-food industry, we can expect the trend to continue this year. Popular items like the Big Mac will likely get even more expensive as operators recognize the need to increase hourly wages and benefits in order to attract and retain employees.

The National Owners Association (NOA), an independent group of McDonald's operators, sent a letter to its members last week with the recommendation to "do whatever it takes" to keep their restaurants staffed—even if it means having to increase menu prices as a result.

"Price increases are happening everywhere you look and will continue as employers pass along these added costs," the letter said. "We will do the same. A Big Mac will get more expensive."

RELATED: McDonald's Is Closing Down These Locations in Record Numbers

The nationwide shortage of fast-food workers continues to be a hurdle on the road to recovery for major national chains. A shortage of staff at Denny's, for example, is preventing the majority of restaurants from going back to a 24-hour operation window—a primary source of revenue for the diner brand. And things are getting slower at the drive-thrus, too. A viral video from April shows a sign posted at a McDonald's location in Texas asking customers to be patient, as understaffed kitchens and drive-thru windows are causing longer service times.

In an effort to hire back workers, individual McDonald's operators have been offering incentives like sign-on bonuses and paid job interviews, but clearly, these tactics aren't working, said the NOA letter. The blame is placed on unemployment benefits, which allow minimum-wage workers to make more money by staying at home than they would if they were working a demanding job as a McDonald's server.

McDonald's employees say it's high time the chain increased its hourly pay for the workers who are at the foundation of the company's success. The Fight For $15 association, formed by those fighting for a $15 minimum wage, plans to put additional pressure on the company the day before its shareholder meeting this month, by staging a walkout from their McDonald's jobs in 15 major cities around the country.

For more, check out McDonald's Just Brought Back This Popular Menu Deal, and don't forget to sign up for our newsletter to get the latest restaurant news delivered straight to your inbox.

Mura Dominko
Mura is a Deputy Editor leading ETNT's coverage of America's favorite fast foods and restaurant chains. Read more