July 29, 2013
By Stephanie West

Washington, DC – As fast-food workers in seven cities have walked off their jobs in recent months calling for higher wages and industry reforms, a new report by the National Employment Law Project documents the limited opportunities to upward mobility for front-line workers in the fast-food industry. According to an analysis of Census data, managerial positions make up just 2.2 percent of all jobs in the fast food industry, with opportunities for franchise ownership remaining even more limited, making up just one percent of all jobs in the industry.

“While the industry argues that frontline jobs are a stepping stone to a brighter future for its employees,  that’s more myth than reality for most fast food workers,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. “The truth is, millions of fast-food workers will never have an opportunity to move beyond front line jobs.  That’s why it’s so critical that instead of empty promises of future possibilities, the industry act to ensure that thejobs most fast food workers occupy provide the wages and benefits workers need to support themselves and their families.”

The report examines the occupational structure of the fast-food industry, finding that low-wage positions make up the vast majority of jobs in the sector. Front-line positions as cooks and cashiers make up 89.1 percent of all jobs in the industry and pay a median wage of $8.94 per hour. First-line supervisors make up another 8.7 percent of jobs in the industry and pay a median wage of $13.06 per hour.

The 2012 National Employment Law Project found that the largest employers of low-wage workers – including fast food chains such as McDonalds and Yum! Brands (the owner of Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut) – have earned strong profits throughout the post-recession recovery.


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