Study suggests fast food workers' wages cost taxpayer funds

Protesters suggest the workers' wages are costing tax payers
October 15, 2013 4:37:19 PM PDT
A lot of us enjoy the convenience and the price at fast food restaurants -- quick sandwiches, burgers, fries on the run. But if you believe a new study from the University of California at Berkeley, that food may be costing all of us more than we thought.

The new study, which looked at fast food workers in all 50 states, found that in Texas there are 158,000 people considered front line fast food employees. A stunning 59 percent of them accept some sort of public financial assistance, costing Texas taxpayers $556 million per year.

"In 2013, the federal poverty level for a family of four is $23,000 a year," said State Rep. Armando Walle. "For somebody who is a fast food worker and gets paid seven, eight, maybe nine dollars an hour, that doesn't add up to $23,000."

The study gives more fuel to the local fight to raise the pay for fast food workers. The group Fight for 15 Houston wants the hourly wage pushed to $15 per hour. And they tried to present a check for more than half a billion dollars to a local Burger King.

"That is the public cost, the public cost amount that the fast food industry has placed on Texas taxpayers," said Reverend James Caldwell.

in August, fast food workers around the country went on strike, protesting what they call unlivable wages. The National Restaurant Association said higher wages would erase an already thin profit margin and could impact a restaurants' ability to maintain or hire workers. That's an argument those who put together the study tell me is overstated, and they say that higher wages lead to less turnover, more productivity, and ultimately more profits in the long run.

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