Last year, protesters across the country took to the streets to demand that cities and states raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Now, fast food goliath McDonald’s has schooled “Fight for $15” supporters on market forces by deploying self-service machines where jobs once stood.
Earlier this month, McDonald’s announced plans to roll out digital ordering stations and table service to every single one of its 14,000 American restaurants.
While these are not intended to replace the traditional line-to-order format, McDonald’s claims that some employees will be retrained to help customers operate the kiosks.
However, analysts have pointed to the lessons of Economics 101 to explain why automation will ultimately thwart the Fight for $15 crowd. If the costs of hiring human employees rise while the costs of installing machines and computers to replace them fall, any corporation is going to opt to slice its margins.
Some experts predict that a $15 minimum wage would ravage small businesses by forcing them to either hire fewer workers or to move locations in order to keep their doors open. In California, where the minimum wage will climb by $1 per year until it reaches $15 in 2021, a slew of companies have already announced their intention to move low-paying jobs out of the state.
Check out McDonald’s job-destroying automated kiosks below: