A chorus of “I told you so” came down last week as headlines tied minimum wage hikes to job automation.
Fox News: “Minimum Wage Hike Backfiring? Wendy’s Increases Self-Service Kiosks”
Washington Times: “As minimum-wage hikes become mandatory, Wendy’s looks to expand self-service kiosks”
Investors.com: “Wendy’s Serves Up Big Kiosk Expansion As Wage Hikes Hit Fast Food”
The idea: raising minimum wage causes companies to eliminate jobs, bringing in job automation through self-service.
Keep in mind that Wendy’s itself only operates only 10% of stores, including zero in California (a minimum wage warfront), so they don’t fully bear these costs directly. Also, they cited competition to “access good labor” as a key driver of wage inflation. In other words, it’s hard to find good people, so they’re increasing wages to attract and retain them. And especially as the fast foot market softens overall, price competition remains fierce and cost pressures remain high.
Notable in the Wendy’s announcement was that mobile ordering and mobile payments are also coming.
And here’s where any confusion about correlation and causation breaks. And where a brief consideration of job automation begins.
There’s an inevitability to it all (maybe).