Low wages at fast food chains are costing the U.S. between $3.8 billion and $7 billion in social assistance every year, while the companies earn billions in profits.
“The overwhelming share of jobs in the fast-food industry pay low wages that force millions of workers to rely on public assistance in order to afford health care, food, and other basic necessities,” the National Employment Law Project writes in a report.
The law project estimates fast-food workers access $3.8 billion in services a year, while a report by the University of California’s Labor Center puts that figure at $7 billion.
The median wage for a fast-food job in America is $8.69, with many places paying less, finds the university study. It also states an estimated 87% of fast food workers don’t get health benefits through their jobs.
Along with working part-time hours, these factors are forcing fast-food employees to use social services to get by, says the University of California study.
More than half (52%) of restaurant chain workers use public programs, compared to a workforce average of 25%.
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Medicaid and children’s health programs for these workers and their families cost an average of $3.9 billion alone.
The restaurant chain workers draw an average of $1.04 billion yearly in food stamps and $1.9 billion in other benefits.
MacDonald’s alone costs taxpayers about $1.2 billion a year, states the law project study. It looked at the 10 largest chains in America, including Warren Buffett’s Dairy Queen, whose employees draw $228 million of social services a year.
The law project notes that the seven publicly-traded companies that researchers examined earned $7.44 billion in profits last year, gave $52.7 million in pay and bonuses to their highest-paid executives and distributed $7.7 billion in dividends and buybacks.