Fast food workers: not who you think they are
May 30th, 2014
10:45 AM ET
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Older. Educated. A parent.

This is the face of today's fast food workers - 70% of whom are over the age of 20, nearly 40% have children and a third of them have spent some time in college, according to U.S. census data.

It wasn't always this way.

In 1979, teenagers held 26% of all low-wage jobs, while adults aged 25-64 made up less than half of such workers, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, which analyzed the low wage workforce over a 30-year span.

Today, only 12% of low paying jobs are held by teenagers, while adults make up 60% of them. Also, only 20% of such workers had attended some college in 1979. Today, it's 33%.

Read - I work in fast food and I'm not a teenager

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. 03alwi

    If people are willing to eat food that is unhealthy for them, they sure are willing to pay more. Pay the workers a proper salary under proper employment contracts. Make the meals more expensive to cover the costs. See if the fast food fanatics will stop coming. But that ain't never gonna happen.

    June 9, 2014 at 7:20 pm |
  2. centerforcreativework

    Reblogged this on Empires, Cannibals, and Magic Fish Bones and commented:
    Who takes your order? Who serves your food? The answer is an agricultural and political act.

    June 6, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
  3. Graduate

    Maybe quitting school in the tenth grade was not such a hot idea after all...

    June 4, 2014 at 10:13 am |
    • JellyBean

      Sigh, you obviously did not read the article.

      June 4, 2014 at 10:20 am |
      • Graduate

        Actually, the article states that a third spent some time in college. Which means that TWO THIRDS (or roughly 66% for the math impaired) have a HS degree or less. That means the majority, have only a HS diploma or less.

        Reading comprehension is your friend.

        June 4, 2014 at 10:44 am |
  4. amiewarren73

    So 38% of them are evidently 20 years old? That makes sense if you count 21 as legally an adult. That's a lot of 20 year olds, right? These numbers are skewed.

    May 31, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
    • amiewarren73

      Oops - I meant 28%, which still makes sense.

      May 31, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
  5. danz

    12% teens + 60% adults = 72%. Where's the rest of the workforce....children? Also, some teens are adults so...this is just not making sense.

    May 30, 2014 at 11:54 pm |
    • Noah

      If you read the article they define adults as 25-64, so they rest is either 65+ or 20-24, I would assume.

      June 4, 2014 at 9:53 am |
  6. Mensaman

    Perhaps it would be a kindness to limit the age to work in fast food non-management at 21 or 22. In this way young folks going to school will have abundant work opportunities and this would kindly "kick the fledglings out of the nest" so they can fly on to higher paying jobs to gain the skills or education they need for a career.
    Keeping people mired in low wage jobs and opting to raise the wage in a non-market driven way is just irresponsible.

    May 30, 2014 at 6:18 pm |
    • Liz

      Uh, what? Limiting the age of fast food workers IS a non-market-driven strategy, not to mention where are the over-21 fast food workers going to work? You think they are merely choosing to work in fast food rather than other exciting opportunities? You need to stop playing with Mensa picture puzzles and do some real thinking.

      May 31, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
    • Regressor

      More regulations on the poor so that the rich can pay them less, for less time and fire them without cause. Patrick Sheridan definitely missed a few things though, so it was bound to attract people only paying attention to controversy. The more the college educated population increases, the narrower the pinnacle of well paying professional jobs there will be. Even the most middling wages and salaries are filled by overqualified mobs of degree holders, pushing the lower class to dust. It's not a matter of finding jobs for college grads. We are finding them jobs – by taking them from the poor.

      June 1, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
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