The roughly 20 million workers involved up and down the American food chain make up a sixth of the country’s entire workforce -- a fifth if you exclude public employees. But they’re not treated especially well, according to a new report.
The Food Chain Workers Alliance interviewed some 700 workers and employers in food production, processing, distribution, retail and service sectors for its study. That includes employees at farms, slaughterhouses, warehouses, grocery stores, restaurants and more.
Researchers found that food sector workers outnumber healthcare, education and manufacturing employees and are responsible for annually producing $1.8 trillion in goods and services, more than 13% of gross domestic product.
But just more than 1 in 10 of them earn a livable wage. The vast majority don’t get basic benefits from their employers and don’t have many opportunities for advancement. The food industry, according to the study’s authors, could be endangering its workers and customers by forcing employees to operate in conditions of high stress and little payback.