Fifty-nine percent of front-line fast-food workers in Texas rely on public assistance programs such as food stamps and Medicaid to support their families, according to a report released on Tuesday.
The Texas Tribune reports that nationally, more than half – 52 percent – of the families of front-line fast-food workers use at least one public assistance program, compared with a quarter of the total workforce, according to the report.
The Tribune reports:
“The report is a bit shocking,” said one of its authors, economist Sylvia Allegretto, who is co-chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at the University of California, Berkeley. “One would think they’re a last line of defense for a small slice of workers. But this is the majority of workers.”
Some Texas restaurant owners, however, argue that many of their employees are younger workers, and that the jobs teach them the value of hard work and help fuel the economy.
The Employment Policies Institute, which studies employment growth, criticized the report, saying in a press release that it ignores economic evidence that big wage hikes would make fast-food workers worse off because employers would be forced to replace them with automated alternatives.
"Taxpayers do have a choice," said Michael Saltsman, the group's research director. "They can either provide partial support to less-skilled employees who have difficulty finding employment at higher wage rates or they can provide a 100 percent subsidy when these employees lose their jobs due to an unrealistic wage mandate."