The Hidden Cost of Cheap Fast Food: $7B in Aid
Maybe those burgers aren't such a bargain, after all
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2013 1:07 PM CDT
Updated Oct 19, 2013 1:28 PM CDT
A sign advertising job openings outside a McDonalds restaurant in Chesterland, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)

(Newser) – Think that dollar menu is a bargain? All that cheap fast food comes with a hidden cost to taxpayers, according to a new report. Researchers at UC Berkley have found that low-paid burger-flippers cost US taxpayers $7 billion a year in social welfare programs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. A recent study found 52% of the families of fast-food employees rely on some form of public assistance, compared with 25% of the general workforce. More than a quarter of employees are raising at least one kid. "Why should I have to rely on government assistance when I work as hard as anyone else?" says a 40-year-old Burger King employee and mother of two who earns $7.85 an hour.

"I rely on food stamps to eat at night," says a 21-year-old McDonald's employee who makes $7.25 an hour. "The CEO of McDonald's makes more in a day than I make in a year." The study found that the average American fast-food worker earns $8.69 an hour, and only 13% receive benefits like health care, reports the Guardian. "It doesn't matter whether you work or shop at McDonald's or not, the low-wage business model is expensive for everybody," says an analyst at the National Employment Law Project, which recently conducted a similar study. "Companies ... are basically pushing off part of their costs on the taxpayers."

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Oct 20, 2013 8:03 PM CDT
the corporate model does not work. To have to INCREASE profits every year by 5% is not a model that can be sustained. Over a long enough period you would need all of the resources, and what do you do then? Invest in the people that bring you so much wealth.
Oct 20, 2013 4:23 PM CDT
Chipotle's & Starbucks both pay their employees more than McDonalds & include health insurance, so why can't McDonalds? McDonald's is all about profit, even if it is at the expense of the taxpayer & the detriment of it's workers. A business can be profitable & still treat their employees as human beings. If you work full time, you should make a living wage.
Oct 20, 2013 4:14 PM CDT
What we need is a tight labor market ( a workers best "friend") where companies would have to pay good wages to attract workers. This is far from what we have though. We have so many unemployed that the companies can offer pitiful wages and some desperate person will accept them. We also have the bipartisan sellout, republicans who want massive immigration for cheap labor ( a major entrepreneurial magazine basically sad thwart all attempts at immigration reduction) and the democrats who want to import a massive amount of people that will be reliable votes as they make this low wage fiasco viable with social services, the real economic cost that we pay for the "cheap" labor. And I will just mention there are many other costs beyond just the economic cost of this bipartisan sellout. The ruling class is destroying this country. We need a viable third party but things are pretty much stacked against we the people and anybody who would actually represent us and what is best for the country in the long run. We are so far gone economically (almost incomprehensible debt and spending beyond our means) and so far gone to any observance of the rule of law (the ruling class are just making laws (that they sometimes follow) with utter disregard for the constitution and the self determination of we the people). Obama and Romney were both horrific choices So was McCain ,Gore, Clinton, Kerry, Dole, Bush, Bush