For people likes Fox News' John Stossel, who believe panhandlers are really raking it in for upwards of $80K/year, here's a news flash: according to a survey funded by the the Union Square Business Improvement District, San Francisco panhandlers make less than $25 a day.

According to the survey, which involved 146 people over a two-day period around Union Square, "the typical panhandler is a disabled middle-aged single male who is a racial minority and makes less than $25 per day despite panhandling seven days a week for more than five years." Contrary to popular suspicions, 94 percent said that they use the money they glean for food (44 percent use it for drugs or alcohol).

Other findings:

  • 83 percent are men

  • 48 percent are African American

  • 31 percent are white

  • 69 percent are single

  • 26 percent served in the military

  • 70 percent are 40 to 59 years old

  • 58 percent have been panhandling for at least five years

  • 53 percent panhandle seven days a week

  • 60 percent make $25 a day or less

  • 94 percent use the money for food

  • 44 percent use it for drugs or alcohol

  • 62 percent are disabled

  • 25 percent are alcoholics

  • 32 percent are addicted to drugs

  • 82 percent are homeless

Researchers also surveyed 400 people who had given money to panhandlers in the past year, and found that the majority were young working-class Bay Area residents (not tourists or tech workers). Meanwhile, a New York Times article notes that Twitter's payroll tax break will save them at least $22 million over six years in their new nearby mid-Market offices.

[Think Progress]