A bunch of good news earnings reports Thursday brought cheers to the stock market with the Dow jumping 320.55, the S&P 500 rising 33.57 and the Nasdaq increasing 79.93.
But none of the increases from companies such as AT&T, eBay, Microsoft and Amazon seemed to mean as much to the U.S. economy’s slow crawl from the Great Recession as McDonald’s emerging from two years of earnings dark clouds.
The company’s same-store sales grew 4 percent in the third quarter, ending Sept. 30, The New York Times reports. Even McDonald’s struggling U.S. fast-food restaurants had sales growth of 0.9 percent.
The good news for the U.S. economy is that McDonald’s sales improvement indicates that Joe and Josephine Sixpack feel good enough about their personal finances now to splurge on eating out in fast-food places that attract everyday, working class Americans. McDonald’s well-being is probably one of the best measures of how good folks in the lower socioeconomic tiers of the country feel about how well off they truly are.
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People in the top 1 percent to 20 percent of the wealthiest Americans can eat anywhere. The folks in the middle and at the bottom know that McDonald’s doors are always open to them with affordable menu items.
It’s hard for Joe and Josephine Sixpack to forget the Great Recession and how it took away jobs, wiped out savings, stripped people of the equity they had in their homes and emptied many retirement accounts. Slowly a lot of that has come back, leaving Sixpack couples feeling good enough to indulge themselves with some McDonald’s.
It seems to have helped that the fast-food chain is offering all-day breakfast food and is expanding other menu offerings. The better McDonald’s and its competition are doing, the better the economic recovery looks from a sidewalk view of Main Street U.S.A.