isn't the only corporate giant relying on government assistance to make up for the low, low wages it pays its workers. According to a new report from the University of California-Berkeley Labor Center, 52 percent
of front-line fast food workers are on some form of public assistance, at a cost of nearly $7 billion a year. And the 10 largest fast food companies
account for $3.8 billion of that, the National Employment Law Project estimates.
The UC-Berkeley study only looks at participation in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; if it included all government programs, such as child-care subsidies and reduced price school lunches, the total would be higher. That's because fast food restaurants pay wages so low that even the families of full-time fast food workers rely on public programs—the median income for people working more than 10 hours a week 27 or more weeks per year in nonmanagerial fast food jobs is $8.69 an hour.
The companies benefiting from all that low-wage labor and the food stamps and health care assistance needed for workers to get by are doing just fine. Last year, the 10 largest fast food companies earned $7.44 billion in profits, paid their top executives $52.7 million, and distributed $7.7 billion in dividends and buybacks, according to NELP. Meanwhile:
Like Walmart, McDonald's and Taco Bell and Domino's are profiting directly off of government programs for low-income people. Taxpayers are subsidizing wages at these immensely profitable companies, while Republicans in Congress block the minimum wage increase that would raise many fast food workers out of poverty.