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
Lousy Fast-Food Pay Costs $7B a Year in Gov't Aid
A sign advertising job openings outside a McDonalds restaurant in Chesterland, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)

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." (More welfare stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.