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Fast food industry may be hurting already struggling economy

As South Florida and other areas of the country continue to struggle and recuperate from the recent financial crisis, countless people face the prospect of unemployment or being forced out of retirement. The fast food industry employs millions of Americans each year, and reflects shifts in employment conditions as more adults and breadwinners are hired as fast food workers. Concerns are on the rise, however, that employment practices within the fast food industry are compromising the financial security of individuals and the nation as a whole.

The findings of two recent studies suggest that many people seeking debt relief by working in the fast food industry may continue to struggle. According to the studies, the average fast food workweek is less than full time, and only a little more than 10 percent of fast food workers are offered health insurance through their employer. The findings of the studies suggest that these factors, along with others like low wages, may play a role in why so many fast food workers rely on public assistance programs to live.

Billions of Florida tax dollars are committed to funding public assistance programs each year, and fast food industry workers are estimated to use almost $350 million alone. Such findings may complement worker complaints of insufficient hours, low wages, and no benefits. The studies also note that the majority of fast food workers are legal adults and providers for their families.

Some fast food industry figures claim the results of the studies are inaccurate, but some legislatures are speaking out over fears that such poor employment conditions may be compromising the national economy.

Source: CNNMoney, "The harsh price Americans pay for fast-food jobs," Elizabeth G. Olson, Oct. 16, 2013

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