Report: Fast Food Workers Have 'No Chance' Of Advancement

Do fast food workers have any chance of advancing in their field?
Do fast food workers have any chance of advancing in their field?

The fast food industry is no longer just a pit stop for high school kids looking to make a few extra dollars. In fact, the median age of fast food workers is now over 28, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (For women, who make up two-thirds of the industry, the figure is closer to 32.) So as Americans increasingly look to the field to find steady employment in their adult lives, the question of whether the industry can provide long-term employment with true growth potential is all the more pressing.

On Thursday, the National Employment Law Project released a study in which it said workers have "virtually no chance of advancement" in the field. According to NELP's analysis of the U.S. Census, manager gigs comprise just 2.2 percent of all positions in the sector. Franchise owners represent an even slimmer segment of the field and occupy 1 percent of fast food jobs, according to NELP.

"While the industry argues that front-line jobs are a stepping stone to a brighter future for its employees, that's more myth than reality for most fast food workers," said Christine Owens, NELP executive director, in a news release.

Indeed, the findings clash with prior statements provided by the National Restaurant Association, an industry trade group, to AOL Jobs. Sue Hensley, a senior vice president for the NRA, has said via email that the restaurant industry as a whole "provides opportunities for millions of Americans, women and men from all backgrounds, to move up the ladder and succeed." There are about 800,000 workers in food preparation work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which expects the sector to grow by 10 percent by 2020.

Fast food workers themselves have already made clear that they're not content with their conditions. Many industry workers labor without benefits and for wages close to the federal minimum of $7.25. Over the past year, fast food workers have begun protesting their conditions, the first time in recent memory that the industry has been targeted by labor activists. Workers are calling for the minimum wage to be doubled to $15 an hour.