Admit it, you feel bad about yourself when, in a moment of weakness, you swing by the fast-food drive-thru and inhale a combo meal or placate the kiddies with some chicken nuggets.
Next time that happens, here's a reason to feel even worse: A new study has found that the low wages paid by fast-food restaurants puts a $7 billion burden on taxpayers in the form of public-assistance programs that workers at these establishments are forced to utilize to make ends meet.
The study, by the University of California at Berkeley, found that 52 percent of the families of fast-food workers are forced to rely on government programs.
“Those dollar meals you’re getting are actually really expensive,” said state Rep. Matthew Lesser, D-Middletown at a recent Connecticut Working Families event in Middletown to demand better fast-food wages. “The largest single expenditure we make in Connecticut each year is funding Medicaid. What we’re doing right now is trying to raise awareness, that it’s not just teenagers that are working in these low-wage jobs and that it’s no OK for these companies to underpay.”
The average fast-food worker in Connecticut working in a "front-line" position makes $9.19 an hour.
“The taxpayer costs we discovered were staggering,” Ken Jacobs, a coauthor of the report, said in a conference call last week, according to the New Haven Register.“People who work in fast-food jobs are paid so little that having to rely on public assistance is the rule, rather than the exception, even for those working 40 hours or more a week. These are conservative estimates that don’t include the costs of the WIC program (Women, Infants and Children, a nutritional program) or Section 8 housing.”