Fast Food, Poverty Wages

The Public cost of low-wage Jobs in the fast-food industry

This report estimates the public cost of low-wage jobs in the fast-food industry. Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the other public benefits programs discussed in this report provide a vital support system for millions of Americans working in the United States’ service industries, including fast food. We analyze public program utilization by working families and estimate total average annual public benefit expenditures on the families of front-line fast-food workers for the years 2007–2011.1 For this analysis we focus on jobs held by core, front-line fast-food workers, defined as nonmanagerial workers who work at least 11 hours per week for 27 or more weeks per year.

Publication Date: 
Regents of the University of California and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Jenifer MacGillvary
Berkeley, California