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Report finds connection between fast food work and homelessness

A report found that 1 in 17 homeless people in California work in fast food. Others working in fast food struggling with rent.
Report finds connection between fast food work and homelessness
Posted at 11:35 AM, May 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-05 12:35:20-04

A report this week released by the Economic Roundtable examined 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.”

SEE MORE: Mental health experts and park rangers team up to battle homelessness

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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