Most Fast-Food Workers Are Not Teens

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Many are raising kids on these low-wage jobs, and the vast majority make less than $10 an hour.

Fast-food workers at McDonald’s and other restaurant chains have been protesting to draw attention to their low wages, demanding $15 an hour.

Fast-food jobs are typically considered entry level, but most of the people who hold them are no younger than age 20, a new Center for Economic and Policy Research study says. “Many teenagers do work in fast food, but the majority of fast-food workers are not teenagers,” it says. Here’s the breakdown, which is from census data:

  • 16 to 19 year of age — 30 percent.
  • 20-24 — 30.7 percent.
  • 25-54 — 36.4 percent.
  • 55 and older — 2.9 percent.

The stereotype that fast-food workers are uneducated doesn’t hold water, either. “Over 70 percent of all fast-food workers have at least a high school degree and more than 30 percent have had at least some college education,” the study says.

A majority are white, and a majority are female. More than a quarter of those 16 and older have a child, and more than a third of those 20 or older do. “Older workers in fast food have little to show for their additional education, age, and experience,” the study says. More than 83 percent of fast-food workers make less than $10.09 per hour.

Stacy Johnson

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