A report this week released by the Economic Roundtableexamined the connection between working in fast food and homelessness in California.
The report found that 1 in 17 homeless people in California works in fast food. It also found that 1 in 3 fast food workers in non-administrative roles receives taxpayer-funded health care through Medicaid.
The report noted that homelessness in California increased 51% from 2014 through 2022. The group said that had fast food workers were paid enough to afford housing, that rate would have been 42%.
Additionally, there is a significant burden on these workers who aren’t homeless. The report indicated that 25% of front-line fast food workers spend at least half of their earnings on rent, and 43% live in overcrowded living conditions.
“The fast food industry is a poverty employer, with a larger share of its workers in poverty than any other industry,” the Economic Roundtable wrote. “All low-wage workers face some level of risk that they will become homeless. This risk is compounded in the fast food industry by the combination of low wages, part-time work, and employee churn. These interlocking hazards undercut workers’ ability to pay their rent.”
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for fast food and counter workers in 2022 was $13.43 an hour, which is about $20 below what the median hourly wage is for the general population.
California had the second-highest median hourly wage for fast food workers out of the 50 states, behind Washington. The median wage in California in 2022 was $16.60 an hour.
An annual estimate released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development said 582,462 people were experiencing homelessness on a single night in January 2022 in the U.S.
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