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Our Opinion: A Living Wage Versus a Cheap Burger

| Written by ILSR Admin | No Comments | Updated on Oct 17, 2013 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/opinion-living-wage-cheap-burger/

Brattleboro Reformer, October 17, 2013

A study just released by the University of California at Berkeley’s Labor Center and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, revealed that $1 burger you just purchased at your local fast-food drive-up window actually cost you a little bit more than $1.

Between 2007 and 2011, nearly $7 billion a year was spent to provide public assistance to people who work in the fast-food industry, according to the study. That assistance comes out of everyone’s paychecks via state and federal taxes.

On average, fast-food workers earn $8.69 an hour, and often work fewer than 40 hours a week, qualifying them as part-time workers who don’t get benefits from their employers, such as health care assistance.

While many people conclude that fast-food workers are mostly teens picking up some extra cash, in fact, 68 percent of them are single or married adults who aren’t in school and 26 percent are raising children.

“These statistics paint a picture of workers not being able to get their fair share of the largest, richest economy in the world,” Sylvia A. Allegretto, lead author of the report by the university economists, which was paid for by Fast Food Forward, a group that supports walkouts by fast-food workers, told the Washington Post. “It is a good thing that we have these work supports, but they should be a last resort.”

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The reports were on top of a third report that revealed in California, taxpayers are shelling out $86 million a year to subsidize Wal-Mart operations. That’s because Wal-Mart’s average worker receives $730 in health care and $1,222 in other forms of assistance from the Golden State.

“Wal-Mart dismissed the study’s findings, arguing that many of its 44,000 California workers would otherwise be unemployed, placing an even greater burden on government welfare programs,” wrote Stacy Mitchell, for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “There is strong evidence, however, that Wal-Mart produces no net growth in employment. The jobs created by its stores replace other, often higher-paying, jobs at existing businesses that are forced to downsize or close.”

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Read the full story here.

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