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The fast food industry’s low wages are costing us all, new research finds.

Taxpayers are shelling out $1.2 billion a year to help pay workers at McDonald’s, according to an estimate from the National Employment Law Project published Tuesday. The organization used estimated figures from a study by University of California-Berkeley and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on how many fast food workers rely on public assistance programs like food stamps and Medicaid for its analysis.

Overall, low wages at the top 10 largest fast food chains cost taxpayers about $3.8 billion per year, NELP found.

As Republicans in Congress fight to curb spending on entitlement programs like food stamps, the report offers an often overlooked solution: Companies could pay workers more to decrease their reliance on public assistance.

Bear in mind that for every fast-food job, there are perhaps a dozen non-fast food minimum wage jobs. The cost to taxpayers has to be significant.

If you've been opposed to raising the minimum wage, does this article cast any doubt on your belief? And for the rest, what are your thoughts.

Tags: assistance, government, minimum, wage

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i find this topic pretty fascinating. I personally believe that the min wage is to low as are most low end wages in general. For far too long the money has been being sucked up to the top end leaving all those to the middle/bottom with less ans less disposable income. Seems to me if they would let more of the fiscal pie down to the bottom they would just spend it on the goods and services the rich are selling.

One of the arguments I hear about this is that well those jobs are starter jobs and were never meant to be long term and oh if we raise the wage businesses will go under etc etc. Well, does not someone have to do these jobs? cant all be filled by highschool kids. And to the logical conclusion of such arguments... imagine if all those people did decide to go to college and jump into the corporate job arena what then? Someone has to do these jobs and we shouldnt expext them to do it for peanuts.

As a guy who works in the "creative" field (writing, photography, graphic arts), I occasionally have found myself in low-wage jobs just to keep cash coming in. One thing that seems to come along with low wage jobs is stupid rules and stupid bosses. 

In one job interview for a low-wage job I asked the interviewer "How do you handle things like if I need to go to a doctor appointment?" "We'd need a note from your doctor" was the reply. Obviously, they simply wanted to deter me from interviewing for a better job if I took their job.

Stupid bosses are illogical. For example, on a bad weather day I was 10 minutes late for work and the boss said, "Well, you need to leave home early enough to be at work on time." "But if I don't know what the hazard is that day, I don't know how early to leave? I can imagine a truck turning over and shutting down the highway for two hours. Should I leave two hours early every morning just in case? Should I get up at 4:30 am instead of 6:30 am just in case a truck may turn over on the highway? I'm sorry: you see I just don't know how to apply your little suggestion." I eventually lost that job.

I interviewed with Home Depot a few months ago. I was 20 mins late because there was a road crew truck parked directly accross the access road, and I had no direct phone number to the interviewer. This was not enough for the greeter or the interviewer. I was asked questions about my education, experience. The interviewer suggested that I really should be interviewing for a safey supervisor desk job, but were also concerned about my heavy lab/science background, almost as if this was a disability!

Why they were not impressed with my experience as a general contractor seemed very odd and twisted! It really felt like they only wanted idiots!

As I left I was told to pick up one of their 'free gifts', plastic HD shipping truck-WOW, an aluminum water bottle-OK, or a sewing kit! I thought the water bottle would be nice!  

James - overqualified people are rarely happy with their jobs for long. I'm sure that was what was going through HR's mind.

But raising the minimum wage to something reasonable would cut into the profits and in our plutocracy that is the greatest sin. I personally want to force that sin onto many companies.

Many different studies and reports have basically indicated people are lying when they make claims that raising the minimum wage will hurt America. One prominent in my mind at the moment is that when we had a significant middle class, we didn't have to worry as much about how badly our senators and congressmen were screwing us over the cost of government because of the amount of taxes being collected.

Now, it's a different matter. We have so few of the middle class left which means a much smaller tax base. Add onto that the fact that the minimum wage has lagged behind other increases just acerbates the problem.

A couple years ago I collected the numbers to compare the minimum wage to the national average price of a gallon of gas. The very 1st year it is possible to make a comparison was the lowest at 1.481 gallons / minimum wage hour but it went to 2.778 g/mwh in 1950. It stayed there through 1952 then dropped to 2.586 for 1953-1955. Since 1956 it was not below 3.222 g/mwh until 1980. It hit a low of 2.428 g/mwh the next year 1981. It went up a little until 1986 when it jumped to 3.602 g/mwh and stayed up until 2003 when it dropped below 3 again and stayed there - at least though 2009. The lowest was 1.662 g/mwh in 2009. The best years were from 1963-1973 where it was at or above 3.906 g/mwh and 1997-1999 where it was also above 4, even peaking at 4.858 in 1998. From 2006-2009 it has been at or below 2 g/mwh.

With gasoline costs that high, of course even people making more had less money for their mortgage. There are two ways to have gas costs in a reasonable range of about 3 g/mwh: put price limits on a gallon of gasoline, or raise the minimum wage. Right now, that would mean a mwh of about $9.90 (inaccurately based on my current local prices - not a national average).

Some will argue against such an idea. But the cost of gasoline has both a direct and indirect effect on the cost of living so why not use it as a major indicator? The low minimum wage is a problem that needs to be fixed and this is one useful indicator. (If there is a higher one we should use that.)

Of course, most minimum wage workers are of necessity renters, not mortgagers. 

I know from my own experience as someone who's long been self-employed in creative areas and has experienced ups and downs of income (anywhere from $90K/yr to less than $12K), cars are a trememdous drag on a small income, especially when there is any sort of public transportation available. However, needing to rely on public transportation makes getting to job interviews and accepting job offers difficult. 

People who've had a good income for years and years can forget or simply not think about the difficulties faced by those on low incomes. 

And if your income is so low you need to make judgments as to which bills to pay and which to let slide can experience the additiional problem of a poor credit rating, which many employers consider because they equate a poor credit rating with irresponsibility or even dishonesty.

In my statement "With gasoline costs that high, of course even people making more had less money for their mortgage." I had intended for the phrase "people making more" to indicate those with decent (well above minimum wage) wages thus implying home-owners. It was a sloppy phrasing on my part - sorry for the confusion.

I guess that depends on whether or not the public would rather pay it in taxes, or pay it for higher-priced hamburgers. In a system based on Capitalism, in which an oligarchy of the wealthy control the country through bribes, lobbyists, or campaign contributions, SOMEbody has to be on the bottom rung of the ladder.

But how tall does the ladder have to be? How many rungs between the rop/rich rung and the bottom/not so rich rung? 

Or, to take the analogy another way, how close to the ground does the bottom rung need to be?

I see homeless people looking for food in the dumpster and prostitutes under the absolute controll of ruthless pimps on pretty much a weekly basis. I live in the suburbs. 

Did you know that the stresses of poverty lowers your IQ a good 10 points?

Many of the people I know, college graduates, some even with Masters degrees, are working two part-time jobs. Or a full and a part-time job. 

Credit card debt and upside-down mortgages are prevalent.

My family has had to make the call between heat, mortgage, medicine, or food. You get used to the cold, but if you get sick, you're in it for the long haul.

Without the generosity of my family, I would be camping or squating. I earn above the minimum wage! I can't find full-time work. I'm still looking. I need to get dental work done, but it would be 1/3 of my annual income. I would love, love, love to have an emergency savings fund. I can't imagine saving for a home or retirement. I have given up on the American Dream. For me, it's a mirage--a carrot in front of an ass--and it's a lie I no longer dream of attaining. I wish I were still lower middle class. 

I'm thinking about going back to school. Because, I need more debt, right? It's not possible for me to pay my existing student loans off in my current position. I wish I had never gone to college and I love learning. Now, I am just servicing interest, sucking money off of my wonderful relatives. I hate that. I wanted to be helping my parents out, not pushing back their retirement. But, at least, it's a sweet deal for the bank--which is actually the US government, in my case. So, I belong to the US government, when you get right down to it. Sometimes I think I should try living in my tent, and then apply for housing and food stamps and medicare. At least I would be a burden on tax payers instead of my family. I worry about being homeless and not having enough to eat a lot. 

Yes, I have always supported an increase in the middle wage--even back in college, when I thought I might remain middle class. Didn't they used to say the rising tide of globalization would lift everyone's boat? Problematic as that idea is, it does appear to be true that rising the level of minimum income would benefit the majority of tax payers (less crime, less emergency health care, more spending power driving the economy). Who stands to loose? Only the super-rich. But can they not afford such a small, small loss of their ever-growing wealth?

I think politicians keep the minimum wage low because the elite hate the poor. Poverty keeps people desparate and wrapped up in the daily drama of just getting by--which assures that they won't have energy for anything else--like participating in self-government.  That's good for the status quo.

It's wage slavery, the only form that's legal.

Did you know that the stresses of poverty lowers your IQ a good 10 points?

Not doubting that, but it doesn't seem to have had much effect on you, as you've always seemed bright, intelligent and able to express yourself well.

Funny how there's a "minimum wage," but there's no "maximum wage." Lol!

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