The pay is too low to live on in Sacramento. Are more than half of all Sacramento fast food workers protesting for higher more livable wages protesting because nationally, more than half of fast food workers can't make ends meet without reliance on public assistance wages? A new study from the University of California, Berkeley reports that fast food is a $200 billion-a-year industry. But in contrast, the median wage for core front-line workers at fast-food restaurants nationally is $8.69 an hour. A breakdown of other states for which data are available is in the report, “Fast Food, Poverty Wages: The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Fast-Food Industry."
Only 13 percent of the jobs provide health benefits. The fast-food pay for the average worker is low and weekly work hours are limited. Because of the low income, families of more than half of fast-food workers in that industry are unable to make ends meet," the new UC Berkeley report said. The new study looked at data supporting the claims that hundreds of fast food workers have been making across the country over the last year.
Protests from New York City to Los Angeles, Memphis to Detroit have cropped up since last November, with workers calling for a minimum of $15 an hour and the right to organize without retaliation. Gaps between rich and poor are getting wider as the middle class appears as if it has been dividing between the upper middle class and the working poor with another class by itself of the unemployed poor who have run out of money, lost homes to foreclosure, and can't find full-time steady work that can be relied on to pay rent, food, and other necessary bills just to survive.
You even have college graduates who can't find work in their field of focus working in the fast-food business
And more than two-thirds of core frontline fast-food workers across the country are over the age of 20, Sixty-eight percent are the main wage earners in their families. You have single parents working in the fast-food industry and people of all ages who just can't find jobs related to their experience or what an employer thinks they can or can't do well on other jobs. After all, you're hired when you pose the least financial risk to an employer.
And across the country fast food workers have been protesting since last year. What they want is higher wages, enough money to meet their frugal expenses of paying rent, buying food, paying taxes and utility bills, and having a way to get their teeth fixed, eyes corrected when needed, and health needs taken care of. You may wish to check out the October 15, 2013 Boston Globe news article, "Public aid crucial to fast-food workers."
The reality is that more than half of fast food workers are turning to public assistance or have relied on it because as the working poor, wages can't pay the rent or afford the food needed to support themselves and/or their families. Now a new report from the University of California Berkeley Labor Center and University of Illinois study published on October 15, 2013 explained that 52% of families of fast food workers receive assistance from a public program like Medicaid, food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
The general public is paying $7 billion each year for public aid going to fast-food employees: The working poor, and many part-timers can't get enough full-time hours to pay their basic bills
That's compared to 25% of families in the workforce as a whole, according to the October 15, 2013 CNN Money news article, "Half of fast food workers need public aid." The public pays $7 billion every year to pay for the public aid going to fast-food workers. And many of these workers can't get enough hours to earn full-time employment wages, even if they're earning between $8 and $9 an hour at this time.
You can check out these statistics on public assistance programs where the figures are listed for public assistance programs from 2007-2011. For further information on numbers also check out the October 15, 2013 Los Angeles Times article, "More than half of U.S. fast food workers on public aid, report says." Also, according to an October 15, 2013 UC Berkeley news release by Kathleen Maclay, on the new UC Berkeley study, "Low-wage fast-food jobs leave hefty tax bill, report says," the fast-food industry costs American taxpayers nearly $7 billion annually because its jobs pay so little that 52 percent of fast-food workers are forced to enroll their families in public assistance programs, according to a report released Tuesday, Oct. 15 by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley.
“The taxpayer costs we discovered were staggering,” explains Ken Jacobs, chair of UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education and coauthor of the report, according to the UC Berkeley news release. “People who work in fast-food jobs are paid so little that having to rely on public assistance is the rule, rather than the exception, even for those working 40 hours or more a week.” Also see the article, "The real budgets of McDonald's workers."
Researchers report hefty taxpayer costs for public assistance to help low-wage workers in the fast-food industry
The researchers found that the fast-food industry’s low wages and meager benefits, often accompanied by part-time hours, combine to create substantial public-assistance needs, including:
- Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, $3.9 billion per year
- Earned Income Tax Credit payments, $1.95 billion per year
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, $1.04 billion per year
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, $82 million per year
The states where the fast-food industry’s low wages cost U.S. taxpayers the most include California at $717 million, New York at $708 million, Texas at $556 million, Illinois at $368 million and Florida at $348 million. You have an increase in Sacramento in homeless children and families living in cars or moving in with several generations of families while working in fast-food eateries. See, "Number of homeless students in Sacramento County schools jumps."
“This is the public cost of low-wage jobs in America,” states UC Berkeley economist Sylvia Allegretto, co-chair of the Center for Wage and Employment Dynamics, according to the UC Berkeley news release. “The cost is public because taxpayers bear it. Yet it remains hidden in national policy debates about poverty, employment and public spending.” See the Chicago Tribune.com article, "Report: Fast-food workers depend on public aid ."
The researchers said families of front-line fast-food workers are enrolled in public programs at more than twice the rate of the overall workforce
The report was funded by Fast Food Forward, a coalition of workers and labor, religious and community groups campaigning for higher wages and rights on the job for New York City fast-food workers. Earlier this year, fast-food workers in 60 cities went on strike calling for higher pay so they could survive without having to rely on public assistance. They plan other actions this week.
The report also indicates that just 28 percent of core front-line fast-food workers regularly work 40 or more hours per week, compared to 75 percent of the country’s workforce as a whole. Researchers based their findings on an examination of only those federal programs that function as income supplements and of fast-food industry workers not in management positions who put in at least 10 hours a week for at least 27 weeks a year between 2007 and 2011.
Marc Doussard, one of the report’s coauthors and an assistant professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says, according to the UC Berkeley news release, that the report also helps dispel the myth of fast-food workers as largely untrained teenagers. The study also revealed that more than a quarter of Americans working in fast-food restaurants are parents, raising at least one child. For further information, you also can check out figures and studies noted at the Center for Wage and Employment Dynamics.