A man dressed as the McDonald's mascot participates in a protest for higher wages for fast food workers on March 18, 2014 in New York City.
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Food service is ‘most unequal sector’ in the economy

The American economy overall is ferociously unequal, but some sectors are more unequal than others. A new study from the left-leaning think tank Demos looked at CEO-to-worker compensation ratios across the labor force in an attempt to determine where inequality is most concentrated. The answer probably won’t surprise you.

That’s right: The Accommodation and Food Services sector, as it is called by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “is the most unequal sector in the American economy, driven by extreme inequality within the fast food industry,” according to Demos policy analyst Catherine Ruetschlin.

In 2012, the average fast food CEO made 1,200 times what the average fast food employee made, according to Ruetschlin’s report. Fast food workers are among the most poorly compensated workers in the United States, earning an average of $9.09 per hour. Fast food CEOs, on the other hand, earned an average of $23.8 million in 2013.

The second-most unequal sector is retail, according to the report. The Information sector was the second-most unequal sector in 2013, but hadn’t seen similar levels of inequality since at least 2000, suggesting that inequality in that sector was largely driven by tech booms and the emergence of new dot-com billionaires. Average hourly earnings for the Information sector tend to hover around a comfortable $33 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Low wages in the fast food industry have helped fuel one of the most aggressive and high-profile organizing campaigns in recent memory. Fast food workers in over 100 American cities have gone on strike over the past year and a half, fueling calls across the nation for a minimum wage hike.