The fast food industry is notorious for its low wages and high turnover rates.
But it’s the fast food that’s really hard to beat, according to a recent survey.
According to a new study, fast food outlets across Canada have a median hourly wage of $18.23 per hour, compared to $16.94 for those at a restaurant in the US.
That’s a massive gap, says Kristin Ebert, a researcher at the University of Toronto.
That’s because the fast-food industry is notoriously difficult to predict and change, she says.
The higher wages earned in Canada mean that the industry is able to offer higher wages and benefits, she said.
It’s no surprise, then, that fast food workers in Canada have the highest rate of unemployment of any industry.
A staggering 20 per cent of all Canadian fast-chain workers are employed part-time or without a regular job, according the Employment Insurance Commission of Canada.
“The reason the industry has been so vulnerable to this recession is the low wages are very hard to negotiate for workers,” Ebert said.
“You need a lot of people, and there’s a lot more people out there that are willing to take the jobs.”
Fast food workers tend to be paid less than their counterparts in other industries, which means they often can’t take on more flexible jobs, she explained.
“When you have an industry that is so hard to change and it’s so vulnerable, it creates the conditions for people to have to work longer hours,” she said, adding that many employers are already trying to find ways to make their employees work longer.
“If we have this kind of environment, we can’t afford to be making those kinds of decisions.”
The survey also found that the average hourly wage for fast food waiters was $19.90, compared with $23.75 in a restaurant.
That wage gap may not seem like a big deal for fast-casual workers, but it’s a real concern for low-wage workers, Ebert explained.
In fact, many low-income workers in the fast chain industry have to take out loans to support their jobs.
And the survey also shows that many fast- food workers don’t even know that they are eligible for welfare benefits.
A lot of those workers are already in poverty, Eberts study found.
The researchers have published their findings in the Journal of Experimental Economic Research.
The study was conducted by researchers at the Université de Montréal and Université du Québec à Montréale, as well as the University de Montreux.