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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
Fast-food workers aren’t alone
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.