Two studies released on Tuesday showed that fast food workers in the U.S. receive approximately $7 billion in government assistance per year.
The first report—written by economist Sylvia Allegretto and others, sponsored by the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and funded by Fast Food Forward, found that fast food workers saw a median hourly salary of $8.69. The study also found that nearly 70 percent of fast food workers are single or married adults not enrolled in school, and 26 percent are raising children, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.
More than half—52 percent—of families of fast food workers are enrolled in one or more public assistance programs, compared with 25 percent of the overall workforce.
”Public benefits receipt is the rule, rather than the exception, for this workforce,” the authors said, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
The second study, which was based off of data collected by Allegretto and her colleagues, found that McDonald’s workers are estimated to have received the most public assistance–$1.2 billion every year between 2007 and 2011.
“McDonald’s and our independent franchisees provide jobs in every state to hundreds of thousands of people across the country,” a McDonald’s spokesperson said, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. “As with most small businesses, wages are based on local wage laws and are competitive to similar jobs in that market.”
The National Restaurant Association said the reports were “misleading.”
“These misleading efforts use a very narrow lens and selective data to attack the industry for their own purposes and fail to recognize that the majority of lower-wage employees works part-time to supplement a family income,” Scott DeFife, the executive vice president of policy and government affairs, said. “Moreover, 40 percent of line staff workers in restaurants, the primary focus of the reports, are students.”