Un-Fast Food: The 158-Minute Big Mac


Many Americans might wish for higher pay, but at least we don’t need to work three hours just to afford a Big Mac. Workers in many other countries don't have it so easy.

The burger buying assessment, which compares how long an average wage-earner has to work in order to afford a comparable item, and other measures of purchasing power parity (like how long it takes to earn an iPod), comes courtesy of a recent 73-city international prices and earnings guide published by UBS. (The UBS study is also known as the "Big Mac Index.")

Big Mac Money Making Facts

Of the American cities studied, residents of Chicago have the easiest time affording a McDonald’s (Stock Quote: MCD) Big Mac, working only 12 minutes on average to make enough money to buy one, according to the UBS comparison of global wages and prices. Los Angeles and Miami residents have to work about 13 minutes and New York residents have to work 14 minutes to afford the burger, the study found.

Meanwhile, the average hourly worker in Jakarta, Indonesia has to work about 136 minutes to pay for a Big Mac, and in Nairobi, Kenya, the average worker has to spend 158 minutes on the job just to afford that burger.

iToil: Long Hours for a Nano

Beyond the Big Mac, UBS compares how much time workers have to clock in to afford an Apple (Stock Quote: AAPL) iPod Nano.

The Nano, a digital music player with 8 GB of storage space, is the same device in terms of hardware wherever you buy it. In New York, you’ll only have to work nine hours to afford one, while you’d have to work 180 hours to buy a Nano in Mumbai, India. That’s about a month’s salary!

Other Notable Numbers

The UBS study also provided some interesting global financial comparisons:

In the United States, hourly wages average about $21 compared with about $4 in South America and Africa.

You can buy a men’s suit, blazer, shirt, jeans, socks and a pair of shoes for about $950 in Chicago, $990 on Los Angeles and $1,010 in New York, compared with $1,440 in Tokyo and $200 in Manila in the Philippines.

Cab fares are cheaper in New York than in Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles, at $10.25, $21.23, 11.63 and $17.52 respectively for a five-kilometer trip. But the same trip distance-wise in Bogota, Colombia would cost $1.38.

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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