No Piece of the Pie:
U.S. Food Workers in 2016
In honor of International Food Workers Week, the Food Chain Workers Alliance is releasing our new report: No Piece of the Pie: U.S. Food Workers in 2016 with the Solidarity Research Cooperative. In the past five years, the U.S. food system has added 1.5 million more workers and continues to be the largest employer in the country, with 21.5 million workers. That’s 14%, or 1 out of every 7 workers, of the nation’s workforce.
As the country’s largest employer, the food system could have a positive impact on wages and working conditions in other sectors, but instead, it is the worst employer in the country – food workers earn an hourly median wage of $10, the lowest in the U.S. The structural racism upon which the food system was built and continues to function creates a systemic wage gap for food workers of color and especially women workers of color. Asian women earn 58 cents, Latina women 45 cents, Black women 42 cents, and Native women 36 cents for every dollar earned by white men.
With such low wages, 20% (4.3 million) of food workers are food insecure, compared to 13 percent (15 million) of total U.S. households. And food workers use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (food stamps) at a higher rate compared to other workers. Thirteen percent of all food workers, nearly 2.8 million workers, are relying on the SNAP program to feed their household in 2016. This was 2.2 times the rate of all other industries, a much higher rate than in 2010 when food workers had to use food stamps at 1.8 times the rate of all other industries.
20 workers from Alliance member organizations were also interviewed for this report. Their stories of organizing and successes are give us hope strength, especially in light of this past week’s election results, to continue joining with others to build a movement for justice – we hope that their stories will give you some optimism, too, and encourage you to take action during this Intl Food Workers Week and beyond.
For more new data on food workers, stories from workers throughout the food system, and recommendations for policymakers and consumers, check out our full report and the executive summary in English and in Spanish. All are available as a free download.
The report is a result of a collaboration between the Food Chain Workers Alliance and Solidarity Research Cooperative.