Make us your home page
Instagram

More than half of fast-food workers get public assistance

More workers in the restaurant and food services sector are enrolled in public assistance than in any other industry. The new report by economists at two universities is being used as proof that higher wages are needed. Others counter that.

Associated Press (2008)

More workers in the restaurant and food services sector are enrolled in public assistance than in any other industry. The new report by economists at two universities is being used as proof that higher wages are needed. Others counter that.

More than half of U.S. fast-food workers' families receive some sort of assistance, costing the nation $7 billion a year, according to a new report distributed by a group that has been pushing for union representation and higher wages for fast food workers.

Fast-food workers earn an average $8.69 an hour, often working fewer than 40 hours a week, qualifying them for food stamps, Medicaid and tax credits, according to the report by economists at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Even before it was released, the report raised the ire of some conservative groups that said it used faulty methodology.

"In its quest to unionize the fast-food industry, the (Service Employees International Union) has demonstrated that it will leave no stone unturned — including using 'research' and arguments that would get a higher grade in creative writing than in a high school economics class," said Michael Saltsman, a research director at conservative think tank Employment Policies Institute, in a statement.

Even those fast-food workers employed 40 hours a week receive assistance; more than half of those families are enrolled in public programs, the report says.

Workers in the restaurant and food services industry far surpass workers in other industries for dependence on public assistance. About 44 percent of workers in the restaurant and food services sector have a family member enrolled in a public assistance program, compared with 35 percent for agriculture, forestry and fisheries and 30 percent in the retail trade.

Public assistance programs "could be more effective if supplemented by measures that improve workers' wages and benefits," the report concludes.

The nonprofit Employment Policies Institute counters, saying that raising the minimum wage would hurt fast food workers because restaurants would replace workers with automated alternatives. It also adds that although the earned income tax credit may cost the government money, it has proven effective at reducing poverty.

Fast-food workers have been holding one-day walkouts and strikes for more than a year to call attention to their wages. They want $15 an hour and union representation; the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. In their most recent day of protest in August, workers in about 50 cities walked off the job.

$7 billion Annual amount in public assistance that U.S. families whose primary earner is a fast-food worker receive.

Among the report's findings:

$8.69 Average hourly wage for U.S. fast-food workers

$3.9b Amount spent annually on Medicaid and children's health care for fast-food workers and their families

$1.04b Annual food stamp benefits for fast-food families

$1.91b Amount per year that fast-food families receive from the federal government through the earned income tax credit

More than half of fast-food workers get public assistance 10/15/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 10:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. To catch a poacher: Florida wildlife officers set up undercover gator farm sting

    Wildlife

    To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, state wildlife officers created the ultimate undercover operation.

    To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission set up an undercover operation. They created their own alligator farm, complete with plenty of real, live alligators, watched over by real, live undercover wildlife officers. It also had hidden video cameras to record everything that happened. That was two years ago, and on Wednesday wildlife officers announced that they arrested nine people on  44 felony charges alleging they broke wildlife laws governing alligator harvesting, transporting eggs and hatchlings across state lines, dealing in stolen property, falsifying records, racketeering and conspiracy. The wildlife commission released these photos of alligators, eggs and hatchlings taken during the undercover operation. [Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]
  2. CBO analysis: 23 million would lose health coverage under House-passed bill

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Republican health care bill that passed the House earlier this month would nearly double the number of Americans without health insurance over the next decade, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    Demonstrators protests the passage of a House Republican health care bill, outside the the Capitol in Washington, on May 4. The House took the unusual step of voting on the American Health Care Act before the Congressional Budget Office could assess it. That analysis was released Thursday and it showed the bill would cause 23 million fewer people to have health insurance by 2026. Many additional consumers would see skimpier health coverage and higher deductibles, the budget office projected.
  3. Florida Specialty Insurance acquires Pinellas Park's Mount Beacon Insurance

    Banking

    Tens of thousands of homeowners who were pushed out of Citizens Property Insurance for a private carrier since 2014 are finding themselves changing insurance companies yet again.

  4. Marijuana extract Epidiolex helps some kids with epilepsy, study shows

    Health

    A medicine made from marijuana, without the stuff that gives a high, cut seizures in kids with a severe form of epilepsy in a study that strengthens the case for more research into pot's possible health benefits.

    An employee checks a plant at LeafLine Labs, a medical marijuana production facility in Cottage Grove, Minn. [Associated Press (2015)]
  5. St. Pete Economic Development Corporation lures marketing firm MXTR to town

    Economic Development

    St. Petersburg Economic Development Corporation has lured its first big catch to St. Petersburg — MXTR Automation. The digital marketing company announced Wednesday that it will fill 20 "high-wage" creative positions within the next 18 months, as well as open an office in downtown St. Petersburg this year.