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45 Percent Of Indiana Fast Food Workers Receive Public Aid

More than half of the nation’s fast food workers use public aid programs to support their families according to a new labor study released Tuesday.

fast food workers

Photo: Brian Wallace (flickr)

Slightly fewer Hoosier fast food workers rely on public assistance than the national average.

A new study from the University Of California Berkeley Labor Center shows 52 percent of the nation’s fast food workers were also on public assistance.

Nearly 20,000 Indiana fast food employees, or about 45 percent, are in a similar situation.

Researchers looked at front-line employees who weren’t managers and indicated that the workers’ low wages place costs on the public while the fast food industry makes a marginal profit.

According to the report, 40 percent of Indiana’s fast food workers receive an earned income tax credit. Twelve percent are on Medicaid. Seventeen percent have children in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and 18 percent are on food stamps.

Ken Jacobs, the lead author of the study, says states such as Indiana that have fewer workers on public aid than the national average, are not necessarily better off.

“States that have fewer people that are eligible for Medicaid for example, or Children’s Health Insurance Program because the rules are narrower, then you’ll have fewer people on the programs,” he says.

Jacobs says there are other states that have higher minimum wages and therefore fewer workers need assistance. Indiana is consistent with the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

A spokesperson for the Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration, which is in charge of many of Indiana’s public assistance programs, declined to comment.

Emily Wright

Emily, an Indianapolis native, joined WFIU/WTIU in 2013 as Producer of Noon Edition. She studied Telecommunications and Liberal Arts Management at Indiana University.

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