Report finds higher wages for fast-food workers would mean less reliance on government assistanceA new report says if fast food workers were paid more, they'd be less reliant on taxpayer-funded assistance programs.
By: Chuck Quirmbach, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
A new report says if fast food workers were paid more, they'd be less reliant on taxpayer-funded assistance programs.
The University of California at Berkeley has released a study that says so many fast-food workers enroll their families in public programs like Medicaid that it costs U.S. taxpayers about $7 billion a year. In Wisconsin, the tab is about $166 million. Inez White has worked for six years at a McDonalds in West Milwaukee. She's on food stamps and the BadgerCare health program, but says she would rather not be.
“If you'd increase our wages, we'd be less likely to rely on BadgerCare, and more likely to be like, 'Oh, you don't want to help me? Fine, I can do it myself,'” she said.
White says she plans to go to a college next spring in hopes of someday owning her own business, but for now needs to support her family of five. Milwaukee Area Technical College economics professor Michael Rosen says fast food workers need a living wage.
“If there is money in workers' pockets, they buy hamburgers, they buy clothing, they buy health care and recreation,” he said.
A business-backed institute criticizes the Berkeley report, saying more workers would be replaced by machines, if fast food wages were forced to go up a lot.