This spring saw a flurry of fast food worker strikes across the country. Why are these protests happening right now? According to a new analysis, not only are fast food workers some of the worst paid workers in America, they've also been pummeled the hardest in the recovery.
Between 2009 and 2012, real wages fell by 2.8 percent across the board, according to an analysis by the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group for low-wage workers. But food preparation workers saw their real wages drop almost twice that amount -- 5.2 percent -- and cooks experienced a staggering 7.1 percent decline. The average annual wage is now $18,720, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, below the poverty line for a family of three. And that's if they manage to get 40 hours a week of work.
Day-to-day survival for fast food workers has never been more difficult, which is why workers in many cities, inspired by the growing low-wage worker movement, and backed by the Service Employees International Union, have walked out to demand a $15 wage and union recognition. To see the scope of these strikes check out the map above, and click on an icon to learn more.
The map was created by Mariya Pylayev and Carla Astudillo, a freelance data visualization journalist. AOL Jobs will continue to update the map above as more strikes happen.
*Events marked with the #RaiseTheWage hashtag were part of the July 24 National Day of Action, a coalition that staged rallies and walkouts in over 20 cities nationwide. The actions were loosely focused on all low-wage earners, including those in the fast food and retail sectors. Because the map tracks fast food-related activity, AOL Jobs chose to only include actions that explicitly involved that industry.
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