Los Angeles Times • Michael Hiltzik

The Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurant franchises headed by Andrew Puzder, President Trump’s Labor secretary nominee, are among the nation’s major employers of low-wage workers. As Puzder faces a confirmation hearing scheduled for Feb. 2, it’s proper to examine how much his industry’s employment practices cost the American taxpayer. It’s a bundle.

A 2013 study by the Center for Labor Research and Education at UC Berkeley found that public assistance for front-line fast-food workers costs roughly $7 billion a year. That’s a subset of the $152.8 billion the federal government spends on support for low-wage working families, according to a separate study.

Puzder’s CKE Restaurants, which owns the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brands, collects a taxpayer-funded subsidy of about $247 million a year, according to an estimate by the National Employment Law Project. That’s what it takes, NELP said, to “offset poverty wages and keep [CKE’s] low-wage front-line workers and their families from economic disaster.”

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