Study: More Than Half of Fast-Food Workers Need Public Aid

NEW YORK—Some 52% of the nation’s fast food workers are paid so little and have so few benefits that they need some form of public aid – from housing subsidies to Medicaid to food stamps – to get by, a new study says.

Using census data, the National Employment Law Project calculates taxpayer aid for the fast food workers at the 10 biggest chains alone totals $3.8 billion yearly.  One-third, $1.2 billion, aided the 707,000 McDonald’s workers.  The study notes McDonald’s had $5.46 billion in profits last year, paid an equivalent sum in dividends and stock buybacks and paid its CEO $13.7 million. The 10 chains earned $7.44 billion combined.

The study comes as fast food workers nationwide, mobilized by union-backed organizations, have staged successful 1-day walkouts from their eateries – especially at federally funded facilities – demanding their employers pay them a living wage of $15 hourly and let them vote on unionization without employer interference.

“It doesn’t matter whether you work or shop at McDonald’s or not, the low-wage business model is expensive for everybody,” said NELP policy analyst Jack Temple.  “Companies are basically pushing off part of their costs on the taxpayers.”