Few fast-food workers reach management ranks, report says

Though fast-food restaurants tout that a large proportion of their managers started in entry-level positions, a report released Thursday by the National Employment Law Project finds that few fast-food workers join management ranks.  

The group, which advocates on behalf of low-wage workers, said there is limited opportunity for advancement at fast-food restaurants.


Analyzing data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the report found that about 2% of jobs in the industry are classified as “managerial, professional or technical occupations.” That’s compared with about 31% of jobs overall in the U.S.

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Front-line positions accounted for 89% of all fast-food jobs and pay a median hourly wage of $8.94, according to the group’s analysis. First-line supervisors account for another 8.7% of jobs and receive a median hourly wage of $13.06.

“Managerial positions account for only a tiny fraction of jobs in the fast food industry,” the report. And “opportunities for franchise ownership are even fewer.”

Researchers said entry-level workers rarely move up the corporate ladder and become franchise owners because companies require franchisee applicants to a have high net worth. McDonald’s, for instance, requires applicants to have a net worth of at least $750,000 in non-borrowed assets.

The report was in response to claims by various fast-food chains who say many of their managers, franchise owners and corporate employees started in front-line positions.


In 2010, Rich Floersch, McDonald’s chief human resources officer, testified before a U.S. Senate Committee and said that 70% of restaurant managers, 50% of corporate staff and 40% of their top 50 executives started in entry-level positions. 

Recent labor-led protests across the U.S. by fast-food workers has also put pressure on large companies to raise wages and provide more full-time work. In response, restaurant trade groups have said entry-level positions provide a steppingstone to higher-paying positions.


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