Unions and other vested interests often push minimum wage laws to benefit their members – at the expense of those who are locked out of gaining employment.
Yet a recent example from the United States to increases in the minimum wage shows yet another consequence: increased mechanisation.
The fast food industry, which primarily relies upon minimum wage employees, is responding to such increased costs with … hamburger-creating robots! The Illinois Policy Institute reports:
Recently, unions have been encouraging fast food workers to hold out for a $15 per hour wage in Chicago and other cities. Proponents have argued that fast food employees deserve more than they have been getting, and that the pay boost will improve the economy. But if they succeed, a different effect could take place: the accelerated mechanization of restaurants.
There’s already a burger-cooking robot in the works. San Francisco-based Momentum Machines has created Alpha, a robotic hamburger-making machine that the company claims can produce 360 high-quality burgers in an hour with minimal human supervision…
Fast food and other entry-level jobs are valuable as a way for inexperienced workers to gain work experience and demonstrate to employers that they are reliable.Most minimum-wage workers are teenagers still living at home. For them, fast food is not a career as much as a rite of passage, a first step on the road to something better…
If the backers of [increasing the minimum wage] get their way, there will be better-paying jobs in fast food but there will be a lot fewer of them. For those who are left behind, they had better hope that the robot-makers are right, and that there will be other jobs opening up for them somewhere else.