Super-Sized Inequality: Fast Food CEO Millionaire Pay Outpaces Workers by 1000 to 1

The fast food industry maintains a more extreme wage disparity between workers and CEOs than any other industry in the economy, according to a report by the public policy organization Demos published Tuesday.

In many cases, income gaps surpass a 1,000-to-1 ratio, a factor that not only impoverishes millions of fast food workers and their families across the country, but also hurts the overall economy, says the report—.

Between 2000 and 2013, the average CEO’s paycheck quadrupled, with averages coming in around $23.8 million. This is a stark comparison to hourly wages of fast food employees, which increased 0.3% since 2000, and currently averages around $9 per hour, the report shows.

This extreme income disparity also poses a risk to the fast food companies themselves, Demos notes. As workers have increasingly risen up over the past year in protest of their poverty wages and poor working conditions, “legal, regulatory, and operating risks” have become a problem for fast food companies.

“The fast food industry is leading the trend of pay disparity in the US, and the negative consequences are surfacing as operational issues, legal challenges, and diminishing worker and customer satisfaction,” said Catherine Ruetschlin, Demos Policy Analyst and author of the report. “Even the industry leader McDonald’s has acknowledged that rising inequality is a risk to their bottom line. These performance issues can manifest in reduced shareholder returns, but the problems extend beyond fast food to the rest of the economy.”

This was evident in March of this year when fast food giant McDonald’s said at its annual filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission that labor organizing campaigns could “promote adverse perceptions of … our brand” and listed it as a profit “risk.”