The Egg McMuffin-Unemployment Connection

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It’s hard to justify a trip to the drive-thru first thing in the morning when you don’t have a job. Also, when you’re unemployed, “first thing in the morning” may occur sometime after fast food restaurants have already begun serving lunch.

The Washington Post reports on the relationship between unemployment and fast-food breakfasts. Basically, as the former rises, sales of the latter shrink:

As the jobless rate hit 26-year highs fewer people headed to work, and even those who did worried about their spending. So they poured bowls of cereal at home or simply slept in, putting breakfast on the back burner.

“Typically, if you’re unemployed, you’re not getting up at six and not going through the drive-thru,” said Jeffrey Bernstein, an analyst at Barclays Capital. “There is a direct correlation between unemployment and breakfast sales.”

In the five years before the recession hit, breakfast sales jumped 64 percent, according to NPD Group, a consumer behavior research firm, making it one of the fastest-growing sectors in the industry. But traffic slowed as the economy tanked and the ranks of the jobless soared. By the time unemployment hit 10 percent in the fall, breakfast traffic was down 4 percent.

So, if you’re scoring at home, unemployment and economic strife has brought with it an increase in cheap liquor sales and domestic violence, a decrease in sales of men’s underwear and cemetery plots, and an overall rise in fast food meals at the same time that fast food breakfast sales have fallen.