Rss@dailykos.com (laura Clawson) · Monday, December 26, 2016, 10:16 pm
Donald Trump’s labor secretary pick, fast food CEO and all-around cartoon villain Andy Puzder, likes to threaten to automate jobs if the minimum wage rises. But, while automation certainly threatens jobs, it’s not as simple as “wages rise, robots come in.” As we can see by looking around us:
Despite local minimum wages hikes, the number of fast-food jobs has climbed, and many employers say they've had difficulty retaining workers as the economy improves.
And wages aren’t the primary factor in the automation already happening in the restaurant industry:
Restaurant chains including McDonald's and Olive Garden are indeed rolling out options like ordering kiosks and tabletop tablets. Those changes may eventually reduce or change the nature of restaurant jobs, but stem more from the industry adapting to customer habits, and are likely regardless of wages.
Puzder said as much to The Associated Press last year. "I think over time it would've happened anyway because of consumer preferences," he said about ordering kiosks. [...]
Blaine Hurst, president of Panera, said those who think about technology as a way to cut costs, rather than improve service, "not only miss an opportunity, but do your guests a disservice."
Your workers, too! Not that fast food CEOs are notorious for caring about their workers.
Automation is a threat to workers, but using it as a scare tactic to block higher wages in the lowest-wage industries isn’t just evil, it’s empirically questionable. Then again “not just evil, but empirically questionable” could be a slogan for the coming Trump administration.