Report: More than half of US fast food workers on public aid

More than half of US fast food workers on public aid

More than half of families of fast food workers receive some sort of public assistance, according to a new report by economists at UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The report was distributed by a group that has been pushing for union representation and higher wages for fast food workers.

Even before it was released publicly, the report raised the ire of some conservative groups that said it used faulty methodology to prove a point. …

The report calculates that about $3.9 billion a year is spent on Medicaid and children’s healthcare for fast food workers and their families. Families also receive $1.04 billion in food stamp benefits and $1.91 billion from the federal government through the earned income tax credit. Even those workers who are on a 40-hour-a-week schedule receive benefits; more than half of those families are enrolled in public assistance programs, the report says.

Workers in the restaurant and food services industry far surpass workers in other industries for dependence on public assistance. About 44% of workers in the restaurant and food services sector have a family member enrolled in a public assistance program, compared to 35% for agriculture, forestry and fisheries and 30% in the retail trade.

The report has implications for national policies as Congress debates a farm bill that would cut back on food stamps, and as Republicans look to winnow down costs by scaling back other public assistance programs.

Photo: Protesters demonstrate outside a fast-food restaurant in Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2013. (Nick Ut / AP)