Minimum wage hikes lead to minimum service
I read a story the other day from the New York Times about a restaurant in San Francisco that was putting diners to work because they couldn’t afford to pay waiters.
The article also said that some restaurants are now changing to be more cafeteria-style as the minimum wage in San Francisco increases to $15 on July 1. That’s up from $10.74 in 2014. They will also be required to pay health care costs beyond the mandates of the Affordable Care Act if they have at least 20 workers. And they have to offer paid sick and parental leave.
Let this be a lesson to other cities and states where they think that restaurant and fast food places are going to raise the price of food to cover these extra costs. That would drive customers away, so instead they simply adapt to the extra costs by cutting positions.
As it just so happens, I was in McDonald’s the other day and they had installed some sort of computers to take people’s orders. I imagine they did it to eliminate counter staff.
And, as many of you know, grocery and big box stores have self-check-out stations, which allows them to hire less cashiers.
Amazon has created a check-out free store in Seattle where shoppers scan a smartphone app that registers them into the store. They just grab their items and walk out. The technology tracks the items as they are being taken off the shelf and puts them in a virtual cart. The shoppers account is automatically charged when they leave the store.
Gas stations had this all figured out years ago, when they got self-service pumps.
In the waiter-less restaurant in San Francisco, diners find their own table, get their own water and/or wine and silverware. They do have runners to bring the meals to the table, however.
The powers that be who think they are doing people a favor by raising the minimum wage are just forcing these businesses to be more efficient or go out of business.
Years ago those minimum-wage jobs were filled by high school and college students. Nobody ever thought they could make a career out of working as a waitress in a restaurant. I know because when I was a waitress the pay was $2.85 an hour plus tips, no paid time off and no health benefits. At the same time, I also was working at a convenience store (can’t remember what I made there but it wasn’t a lot).
Is it any wonder I eventually decided to go to college so I could graduate and get a higher paying job and benefits?
The only good thing to come out of this situation is that we may not have to tip anymore.
Soon we will be cutting our own meat from hanging carcasses and cooking our own rotisserie chicken. ❖