According to a model developed by an MIT professor, the average fast food employee in Raleigh earns $8.57 an hour.
However, an adult with one child would need to make $20.07 just to afford the basics, according to the model.
It's the difference in the amounts that are prompting fast food workers to protest.
Groups began to gather at 6 a.m. and chanted, "We can't survive on $7.25."
"It's very hard," fast food worker Jeanette Lynn said. "I have three kids I raise. I'm a single mom and $4.75 just isn't cutting it."
Demonstrations in the Triangle are part of a nationwide protest calling for an increase in wages from the minimum wage to $15. Workers also want the right to form unions without interference from employers.
"It's absolutely ridiculous," fast food worker Brandy Pegram said. "I think we deserve better. We work hard, so why not give us what we deserve."
The protests come a day after President Barack Obama supported their plight by calling for an increase in the minimum wage saying income inequality and wage stagnation are threatening upward mobility and retirement security.
It is the second time workers have protested. Back in August, employees from various fast food chains across the Triangle rallied - saying it's critical for them to make ends meet for their families.
"I'm at $7.25, and I can't survive for my family and it's hard to pay bills off of that," said Ashley Echevarria, a McDonald's employee. "I'm really struggling with my family right now."
"I've worked two jobs, sometimes three, just to take care of my two boys and put them through school," said Willitta Dukes, who works at Burger King. "My son is in fast food and I have a grand-daughter. I don't want my son to go through what i'm going through."