The Democrat majority in the Maryland General Assembly often mirrors national progressive movements. The push to increase the state’s minimum wage – or the fight for fifteen – is one such movement.
However, a recent economic impact study and increasing technological advances in automation may have dealt this movement a fatal blow.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Washington, looked at data collected from the city of Seattle, which raised its minimum wage requirement to $13.00 an hour. The researchers then compared that data to surrounding areas whose wage requirement did not increase.
The questions they were looking to answer: How does increasing the minimum wage impact workers jobs and hours?
The study concluded that the lowest paid workers in the Seattle area lost both jobs and hours at a quicker rate than those in surrounding areas. As a result, the researchers concluded that increasing the minimum wage might adversely affect those it is purported to help.
As states such as Washington, California and Maryland seek to pass laws that increase the minimum wage, this study serves as a potential red flag.
Rapid technological advancements in automation serve as yet another roadblock for the fight for fifteen movements.
McDonald’s, one of the chain restaurants often targeted by the fight for fifteen movements, recently announced it would begin replacing cashiers with digital kiosks in store locations this year. Restaurant executives have cited plans to have these digital kiosks in over 14,000 U.S. store locations by the end of 2017.
McDonald’s is not the only company utilizing this technology to replace traditional workers. Companies like Panera Bread, Wendy’s and Applebee’s have all begun to utilize digital automation to cut labor costs.
In an interview with Business Insider’s Kate Taylor, Andy Puzder, the CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s talked about the fight for fifteen movements and how the use of automation has risen saying: “If you’re making labor more expensive, and automation less expensive — this is not rocket science.”
With automation already having a clear impact on low-wage jobs, many speculate that this trend will only intensify and that technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence will have the potential to impact white-collar jobs before we know it.
While advocates of the fight for fifteen movement continue to push for increased wages in states like Maryland, legislators across the country should heed the warning signs and think twice before passing any sweeping wage legislation.