There seems to be a class of people perpetually confused by the notion of “a job.” This otherwise simple term throws so many of them; for instance, the number of people who claim that fast food jobs aren’t “real jobs,” maintaining that they’re for teens and young workers.
This claim is flawed in a number of ways. First, the fast food industry has created jobs at a rate faster than any other sector of the economy; it’s outpacing the country’s overall job growth. An NELP report showed that almost a half — 44% — have been low-wage jobs that pay workers around $10.00 an hour. These low-wage jobs have replaced much of the middle-income jobs that were lost from 2008 to 2010, and the bulk of these jobs are fast food jobs.
The idea that they’re only for teenagers is garbage, too. The majority of them are adults with real responsibilities and real children; according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, 70% of fast-food workers are 20 or older. Of that, a full 25%, have a child; a child that will cost around $245,000 to raise over the course of their life:
Low-wage earners make up a huge amount of the population that’s dependent on public assistance. Since fast food workers are low-wage workers, they rely on food stamps and Medicaid to get buy. This ends up costing the taxpayers billions of dollars each year; billions that could be solved with a simple pay raise at the federal level.
Between their growing presence in the economy and their recent strikes to demand a pay raise and the rights to unionize, it seems like the fast food sector is certainly a “real job.” However, as the statistics make abundantly clear, it’s also a “real job” with “real problems” concerning very “real poverty,” and that should worry everyone.