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Bloomberg Businessweek reports on a study focusing on wage disparity, looking specifically at "the total cost to American taxpayers of a large, low-wage workforce." That cost is calculated to be an average of $7 billion a year, and overall, "52 percent of families of fast-food workers are enrolled in one or more public assistance programs, compared with 25 percent of the workforce as a whole."

The story goes on: "That’s the amount of annual public assistance families of fast-food workers received between 2007 and 2011, according to a new report written by economist Sylvia Allegretto and others, sponsored by the University of California at Berkeley’s Labor Center and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and funded by Fast Food Forward, the group that helped organize the summer’s labor strikes. The authors used publicly available data.

"The report calls out the fast-food industry for its low wages, citing a median salary of $8.69 an hour and a history of offering part-time work. That might have been fine when those behind the counter were mostly teenagers living at home. These days, though, 68 percent of fast-food workers are single or married adults who aren’t in school—and 26 percent are raising children."
KC's View:
There will be some who will question the study because of the institutions that conducted it, but I have to say that the general tenor of the conclusions seem fairly reasonable to me, especially as it concerns the changing face of fast food employees.

There is no easy solution to this, but I do think that it points up a continuing and growing problem in America - wage disparity that is creating a kind of underclass that works hard, works long, tries to raise families and impart solid values to their children, and yet cannot support itself even while doing honorable jobs. That's not just bad for this underclass, but for the retailers and manufacturers that would like to sell it products and services that they cannot afford.