More Than Half of U.S. Fast Food Workers on Public Aid

The Los Angeles Times, in its effort to support the unionizing of the fast-food industry, quotes a report by economists at UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that asserts more than half of families of fast food workers get financial aid totaling $7 billion yearly from the federal government. 

The Times writes that the report was “distributed by a group that has been pushing for union representation and higher wages for fast food workers.” So which group was that? The Times does not say, and there is no link to the group or the report.

According to the Times, the report explains that fast-food workers earn an average of $8.69 an hour, working fewer that 40 weekly hours so they can qualify for food stamps, Medicaid, and tax credits. The Times claims the report states that about $3.9 billion a year is spent on Medicaid as well as children’s healthcare for the workers and their families.

But here is the kicker: the Times states that the report says public assistance programs “could be more effective if supplemented by measures that improve workers’ wages and benefits.”

Michael Saltsman, research director at conservative think tank Employment Policies Institute, stated, "In its quest to unionize the fast food industry, the SEIU has demonstrated that it will leave no stone unturned--including using 'research' and arguments that would get a higher grade in creative writing than in a high school economics class." His organization asserted that raising the minimum wage would have a harsh impact on fast food workers, as some of them would likely be replaced by automated services.


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