Business Insider created a video that clarifies exactly why fast food workers across the U.S. continue to protest as they seek higher wages.

The main argument: living wages vary widely across the country, so our current flat national minimum wage doesn’t cut it for a lot of fast-food workers.  For our purposes, a living wage is the minimum amount necessary for a person to afford housing, food, transportation, and healthcare. 

One more thing to note: data is reported separately for fast-food workers only trying to support themselves, and fast-food workers also trying to support children with their income.

Here are some key facts highlighted by the video.

Fast-food workers earn less than a living wage in 24 states

fast food wages 24 states

Eight out of 10 people in America visit a fast food restaurant at least once a month. Collectively, we spend over $180 billion per year on fast food. With that level of business, it’s not surprising that over 3 million fast-food workers currently prepare and serve food in the U.S.

What may be surprising is that two out of three fast-food workers are between the ages of 20 and 54. Fast-food workers aren’t all teens or college kids with after-school jobs.

Average fast-food wages and living wages both vary by geography (but don’t always add up)

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That same dollar in D.C. doesn’t go anywhere near as far as it goes in North Dakota.

New York fast-food workers fare worst of all

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The data gathered by Business Insider shows that New York fast food workers, on average, make $2.28/hr under the living wage for that area.

Over the course of a year, that puts them nearly $4,750 under the amount they actually need to “make a living.” Besides New York, BI found that U.S. fast food workers are also the worst off in Hawaii and Maryland.

It’s nearly impossible to support a child on fast-food wages in any of the 50 states

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In most states, average fast food wages are about half of the living wage requirement for one adult and one child in that area.

Over 1 in 4 fast-food workers supports a family on those wages, so they rely on public aid

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Over half of fast-food workers rely on some form of public assistance to make ends meet every month.

All that public aid costs a lot of money

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Business Insider reports that combined public aid costs for these workers are over $3 billion dollars a year.

Fast-food companies brought in over $7 billion in profit in 2013

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Fast-food workers aren’t alone

low wage workers worldwide

One out of four Americans works in a low-wage job—not necessarily a fast-food job. That’s more than any other OECD member country.

[via Slate, Business Insider]

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