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How Much Do Fast-Food Workers Make in Major U.S. Cities?

Young adult Caucasian fast food worker standing and smiling while having fun at work and wearing protective medical gloves

Increased efforts to gradually adopt higher hourly wages and bonuses for fast-food workers are being made across the United States. So, how much do fast-food workers make today?

We’ll cover the average salary for fast-food workers, along with factors that impact wages, a list of top-paying fast-food companies and everything else you need to know about a job in fast food.

How Much Do Fast-Food Workers Make in the U.S.?

The salary for fast-food workers in the country averages $28,130 per year, which shows a significant wage growth compared to more than a decade ago, in 2010.

As the demand for fast-food workers remains high, given the country’s reign as the no. 1 fast-food consumer in the world, there has been increasing support to raise the minimum wage. Some states are scheduled to have wage increases to $15 an hour. With this, the yearly salary for fast-food workers will also increase.

Keep reading to find salaries for fast-food workers in major U.S. cities to see how they measure up to the national average.

A top 10 list of fast-food consumers in the world for 2023

New York City

New York City offers fast-food workers an average annual salary of $33,450. In addition to a higher salary than the national average, the city has recently passed a law that increases job security for fast-food workers by limiting some fast-food companies’ authority to fire workers without just cause.


Fast-food workers in Miami can anticipate earning an average annual salary of $22,670. Although Florida has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, there remains a great job demand for restaurant workers following stricter eligibility requirements.


Chicago’s lively culinary scene offers an average annual salary for fast-food workers of $29,700. The city is known for its fluctuating weather conditions and busier periods during events and festivals that attract visitors worldwide.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles offers fast-food workers an average annual salary of $34,180. Although California lawmakers approved a fast-food worker bill to provide workers with more competitive wages in 2022, this has been put on hold until 2024.

A bar graph that shows the average salary for fast-food workers in 2023 for New York City, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles and the U.S.

Keep reading: Fast Food Worker Interview Questions

What Factors Impact the Salary for Fast-Food Workers?

It’s no secret that fast-food salaries have traditionally been lower compared to other industries, as most positions in the industry do not require formal education.

But this decades-long challenge has been met with efforts to gradually address salary concerns and create a more inclusive and rewarding work environment for fast-food workers.

By considering the following factors that impact the salary for fast-food workers, employers can ensure competitive compensation and job seekers can make informed decisions about their next steps.

1. Geographic Location

The average salary for fast-food workers can vary depending on your employer’s location, as cost-of-living standards and wage laws directly affect compensation. Having a good understanding of region-specific norms can allow a more equitable and rewarding employer–employee partnership.

2. Establishment Type

The type of fast-food establishment also influences the salary for fast-food workers. Larger, national chains may have standardized wage structures and policies, while smaller or independent establishments might have more flexibility in setting pay rates.

An infographic that shows the 50 biggest chains by 2021 number of stores in the U.S.
[Source: Visual Capitalist]

3. Your Shifts and Hours

The specific shifts and hours you work can impact the salary for fast-food workers. Night shifts, weekends and holidays may sometimes come with higher pay rates or additional compensation.

4. Work Performance

Establishments often recognize and reward exceptional performance by offering performance-based bonuses or opportunities for wage increases.

By consistently demonstrating exceptional skills, going above and beyond in your duties and contributing positively to the overall success of the establishment, you increase your chances of earning a higher salary for fast-food workers.

5. Background and Experience

Those with more experience or a history of proven skills may be eligible for a higher starting salary for fast-food workers or have better prospects for advancement within the company.

While it’s realistic to recognize that fast-food jobs typically have standardized wages, understanding negotiation techniques and being prepared to advocate for your worth in the job market can still be beneficial. The following steps can help you with that.

  • Research: Understand the average salaries in your area and the specific wage policies of the establishment you’re applying to. These insights will help you make a compelling and reasonable case for a higher salary for fast-food workers.
  • Highlight skills and experience: Mention any relevant skills, experience or achievements that set you apart from other candidates. Showcase your work ethic, customer service abilities and any additional training you have received.
  • Express willingness to learn and grow: Demonstrate your eagerness to contribute to the establishment’s success and your commitment to improving your skills. This can help make a case for a higher salary for fast-food workers based on your potential value as an employee.
  • Discuss performance-based incentives: Inquire about performance-based bonuses or wage increases opportunities based on measurable goals or achievements. This shows your interest in contributing to the establishment’s success and your commitment to delivering exceptional results.
  • Be professional and respectful: Approach the negotiation process with professionalism and respect. Maintain a positive attitude and open communication to foster a collaborative environment.

10 Top-Paying Companies for Fast-Food Workers in the U.S.

Find your ideal match with some of the top companies that offer higher compensation compared to others in the fast-food industry. Explore the 10 top-paying fast-food brands below.

  1. KFC Scottish Food Systems Inc., $19.00 per hour
  2. Starbucks, $17.00 per hour
  3. Applegreen, $16.10 per hour
  4. Domino’s, $15.80 per hour
  5. Burger King, $15.50 per hour
  6. Subway, $15.50 per hour
  7. Wienerschnitzel, $15.30 per hour
  8. Sonic Drive-In, $15.00 per hour
  9. Chick-fil-A, $15.00 per hour
  10. McDonald’s, $14.00 per hour

Do you think fast-food workers should receive higher wages than they currently do?

Find the Best Fast-Food Worker Opportunities With OysterLink

Discover information related to the salary for fast-food workers as well as other opportunities with OysterLink. Our platform provides a streamlined experience for job seekers, connecting them with the best fast-food establishments. Employers also gain the advantage of accessing top-tier talent through our streamlined recruitment process.

Whether you’re starting your career or looking for a new challenge, OysterLink is here to help.

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