This week, the SEIU-backed National Employment Law Project (NELP) released a new report arguing that the ten largest fast-food companies cost taxpayers $3.8 billion per year. Though NELP’s number was widely reported, few people bothered to check the fine print. Buried in a footnote in the back of the report, NELP acknowledged that it only obtained this dollar amount by assuming every “front line” fast-food worker at these companies obtains public assistance.
It’s a plainly ridiculous assumption that’s even refuted by the companion report released with NELP’s study yesterday. Nearly one-third of the fast-food workers in question are either teenagers or young adults living with their parents and attending school. NELP’s bogus report assumes that all of these fast-food employees are costing taxpayers nearly $4,000 a year in public benefits like SNAP and Children’s Health Insurance—benefits they may not even qualify for.
If even 25% of the affected employees in NELP’s report aren’t costing taxpayers a dime, that would mean NELP’s estimates are off by roughly $1 billion per year. This sort of shoddy research clearly demonstrates that this study is a public relations stunt by unions and the advocacy groups and worker centers they fund, rather than a serious look at the data.