INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Researchers at UC Berkeley say the fast-food industry costs American taxpayers nearly $7 billion a year because the jobs pay so little.
The study found more than half of the fast-food workers in the U.S. enroll in government welfare programs in order to get by.
A rally was held in Indianapolis Tuesday afternoon to highlight the issue.
Fast-food employees and supporters held signs highlighting the need for the minimum wage to be increased.
“I make $7.35 an hour but that is not enough to take care of basic needs which is gas rent, medical bills,” said McDonald’s employee Nick Williams.
Rally organizers say the minimum wage needs to be increased to $15 an hour. Otherwise, workers will be forced to use government aid.
“It's costing Hoosier taxpayers alone $130 million a year because these workers are forced to rely on public assistance when they would rather be making a wage that allows them to be supporting their families,” said Indiana AFL-CIO President Nancy Guyott
Fast-food is a $200 billion dollar a year industry.
According to the UC Berkley study, in 2011 Indiana paid out 19 million in the food stamp program to Hoosier fast food workers.
Rally supporters say corporations should be paying workers more, not tax payers.
State representative Vanessa Summers agrees.
“You do need more money” Summers told the small crowd at the rally. “I have a son that tried to live on the amount you guys are living on and it's an impossibility.”
McDonald's Corporation did provide 24-Hour News 8 with this statement:
The fact is that McDonald’s and our independent franchisees provide jobs in every state to hundreds of thousands of people across the country. Those jobs range from entry-level part-time to full-time, and we offer everyone the same opportunity for advancement. Our history is full of examples of individuals who worked their first job with McDonald's and went on to successful careers both within and outside of McDonald's.
As with most small businesses, wages are based on local wage laws and are competitive to similar jobs in that market. We also provide training and professional development opportunities to anyone that works in one of our restaurants.
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