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Higher wages, food prices and mechanization

The other day I paid $8 for a foot-long submarine sandwich. I didn’t get chips or a drink just the sandwich that I paid only $5 for a few years ago.

I get that people who work at fast food restaurants and places like Walmart want to make more money, but those jobs weren’t created to attract people looking for careers or for those raising a family. They were intended for high school and college students who needed cash to pay for gas or to go out on an occasional date. And sometimes higher wages aren’t enough to lure some people to get a job. For instance, I observed a person begging for money along the street who was leaning up against a help wanted sign that advertised $18 per hour to work in a fast-food restaurant.

But the government in all of its infinite wisdom decided that those kinds of businesses needed to raise their wages. As was anticipated by anyone with a brain, prices at fast food restaurants have increased to the point where many of us have decided not to go there anymore and companies, like McDonald’s are using computer technology to take orders so they won’t have to hire as many people.



This is the same thing that is happening in grocery stores with self-serve checkout counters. In fact, I went to the grocery store Thursday night and there were only two manned checkout lines. That is also the case with gas stations and car manufacturing plants. In agriculture it has already happened in the sugar beet fields where, when I was a teenager, we made good money weeding and thinning sugar beet fields next to Mexicans who came to this country every summer to hoe sugar beets. Then the government stepped in and made all these requirements, including putting up porta-potties, which we never needed back in the day.

So, the sugar beet industry started producing equipment to weed the fields and those jobs disappeared. That’s also going to happen in the fruit and vegetable industries where again the government is creating rules that will make it unsustainable for produce growers to make a living.



It has already been happening in the dairy industry where robotic milking machines are being used.

I expect it won’t take too long for meatpacking plants to also adopt machines to process meat so they won’t have to hire as many people.

I don’t think it takes much to see the writing on the wall and it doesn’t bode well for the job market in the future.


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