Yet another article on minimum wage hikes fueling automation.

Automation is coming.  And it’s being driven by artificial economic pressures. But you knew that already.

The industry could be ready for another jolt as a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour nears in the District and campaigns to boost wages gain traction around the country. About 30 percent of the restaurant industry’s costs come from salaries, so burger-flipping robots — or at least super-fast ovens that expedite the process — become that much more cost competitive if the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is doubled.

“The problem with the ­minimum-wage offensive is that it throws the accounting of the restaurant industry totally upside down,” said Harold Miller, vice president of franchise development for Persona Pizzeria, who also consults for other chains. “My position is pay your people properly, keep them longer, treat them right, and robots are going to be helpful in doing that, because it will help the restaurateur survive.”

And here’s the problem: you can’t turn an unemployed burger-flipper into a burger-flipper machine repairman overnight. S/he will have to be trained. Assuming that anybody wants to bother, because people who can be turned into burger-flipper machine repairmen more or less overnight would like jobs, too. So we’re left with people who are either underemployed, or simply just not working at all.

All of this, of course, will bounce off of the reflective shield of anybody who is currently convinced that the only reason that companies don’t pay their employees more now is because they’re being run by an evil conspiracy. I don’t know how you can convince those would-be Samuel Gompers otherwise; and it’s still considered gauche to bounce spoons off of their foreheads until they shut up, and go away. So I suppose that you should… offer it up, maybe?


Moe Lane

10 thoughts on “Yet another article on minimum wage hikes fueling automation.”

  1. This is a real bad time, historically speaking, to be betting against technology. Which is what the $15 minimum wage people are doing. Of course they don’t realize that.
    The article I read about a burger making machine had it’s rate at 600 burgers per hour that’s better than most any burger flipper out there.

    1. Which is great .. if you have orders for 600 burgers. If your location isn’t that busy, then ..

      1. If your location isn’t that busy, you can’t afford the $15 an hour lackey……

        1. … but you might be able to sell to a family of Mexican or Vietnamese immigrants, where Mama will wait on customers, Papa will fry the burgers, and the kids and elders and a random uncle or two will help cover the rush periods …

  2. When I visited my brother in Prague earlier this year, the Tesco there had an interesting take on the self-checkout, that they were testing. Instead of going to a station and scanning the items one at a time and having it yell at you if you didn’t get them in the bag fast enough, you checked out a handheld scanner and scanned everything as you put it into your basket. Then at checkout they spot-checked a couple of things to make sure you weren’t cheating, you swiped your card, and you were done.
    I refuse to use the self-checkout lanes, I hate the things, they simply don’t save time, but this? It was a clear time-saver.

    1. For me, I’ll often use the self-checkout lanes. A good checkout person will be better, but a disinterested, grumpy checkout person who might make a mistake is much much worse.

  3. Yeah, madness… all of it.

    Is there no one who will ask these people, “If $15/hour is good, wouldn’t $20/hour be better? And if $20/hour is better, wouldn’t $25/hour be better still?”

    And at the end of the day, just how much IS some high school kid worth?

    I’ll date myself here, but when I was a kid you could make a nickel a bale putting up hay. Round bales and its associated equipment has closed that door to kids, now.

    Perhaps these agitators think it’s better if the teenagers all stay home and play video games in their parent’s basement.

    It just wears me out.

  4. I don’t want to give anyone nightmares but it looks like the human race is getting ready for the day there are a lot less humans around.

    1. Could happen, of course.. dunno.
      Nice to know I’ll be able to get burgers the way I like ’em ..even without New York, L.A., most of Florida, all of Arizona, etc. etc.

Comments are closed.