McDonald's has a major impact on the U.S. economy

The fast-food burger giant contributes $76 billion a year to the U.S. gross domestic product, according to an economic impact report released this week. That impact is spread throughout the country.
McDonald's economy
McDonald's and its franchisees employ 1.4 million people. | Photo courtesy of McDonald's.

McDonald’s, the country’s largest restaurant chain by sales, is not typically thought of as an economic engine. But it is a substantial one, according to a report this week from the company and Oxford Economics.

The Chicago-based fast-food giant contributes $76 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product every year, the company said.

That impact is spread throughout the country, from a $100 million impact on the Wyoming economy to a $6.1 billion impact in Texas.

The study comes as the chain has been touting its overall impact on the country, particularly when it comes to employment. One in eight Americans have at one point worked for one of the chain’s restaurants, frequently as teenagers working part-time on evenings and on weekends.

The company and its franchisees helped generate 1.2 million jobs in the U.S. per year and generated more than $15 billion in taxes. McDonald’s and its franchisees have also contributed some $26 million in tuition assistance for those employees. The company has 13,400 domestic restaurants and likely generated more than $50 billion in domestic system sales last year.

The economic impact goes beyond the employment situation. The company said it purchased $5.5 billion in raw ingredients alone in 2021 to provide operators with the beef, chicken, cheese, eggs and other supplies to make Big Macs, Egg McMuffins and Chicken McNuggets.

McDonald’s said that it spent more than $9.4 billion overall with U.S. suppliers.

The fast-food chain has been touting its impact as it combats what it sees as a regulatory onslaught at the state and federal levels.

That includes a California law that will raise the wage for fast-food chain restaurants there to $20 per hour. It also includes an effort at the federal level to classify the company as a “joint employer” of its franchisees’ employees.

The company has been taking a more aggressive approach over the past year than it traditionally has in speaking out against such regulations, with various executives making statements on proposals. CEO Chris Kempczinski last year told a group of franchising professionals that “our business model is under attack” from these various regulations.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect a revised estimate of McDonald's economic impact.

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