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I Have Seen the Future of Fast Food in a World of High Minimum Wages

I Have Seen the Future of Fast Food in a World of High Minimum Wages

Minimum wage has been an issue in virtually every recent election in the United States. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that the highest state minimum as of January 1, 2017, was $15 in Seattle. The $15 per hour wage will reach D.C. (by 2020) and California and New York (by 2022). In all, 19 of the 50 states currently have a minimum wage higher than the federal requirement.

If a minimum wage of $11.50 per hour is good, isn’t higher even better? In fact, why be faint-hearted about this? Why not raise the minimum wage by a lot more and a lot more quickly? Thinking more broadly, why not apply it to the poorest countries in the world? A minimum wage of $70 per hour in Somalia, the country with the distinction of having the lowest per capita income (on a purchasing power parity basis), would raise per capita income equal to Liechtenstein, the country with the highest.

Any problems here? Well, the economic objection to the minimum wage is that it raises the cost of labor without increasing productivity, reducing available jobs. Is this happening in the U.S., where the higher minimum wage movement has clearly gained some ground? I went to a place where labor costs are high and rising rapidly, and saw its effects in an industry that is typically labor-intensive. The place was London, and the industry was fast food. The minimum wage in the UK is $9.75 (assuming an exchange rate of $1.30 per British pound). In central London, McDonald’s locations are ubiquitous and have started modifying their ordering processes to accommodate higher labor costs. Instead of going to a staffed register, you go to a marquee like the one above where you use a touchscreen to place your order and a credit card (and soon a phone) to pay for it. You get a numbered receipt, and when that number appears on a video monitor you go to a tray at the front to show your receipt and pick up your order. For most customers that is their first contact with a McDonald’s employee. With half a dozen of these marquees in the store, several jobs are no longer needed.

Of course this system is not the only new way to place orders at fast food chains. Ordering online has become pervasive. However, the latter is mainly designed to handle lines during peak times, whereas the marquees are specifically designed to reduce the use of labor.

Of course, the marquees and the associated backend software system are expensive, so this system will only be deployed where labor costs are high enough. (They can be found popping up in New York City as well.) The cost also gives larger operators a comparative advantage. Smaller chains, and especially independents, will be slower to deploy these as they lack the economies of scale for the backend of the system. If these economies are significant, then one implication of a higher minimum wage is that food we buy out will be bought increasingly from larger corporate organizations.

Expect to see these machines pop up in a McDonald’s near you if you are a location with high labor costs. Also, expect other operators to emulate McDonald’s.


Fast Food Nation Chapters 2 and 3

You must first answer the question and then you must give a thoughtful, meaningful response to someone else’s post.

In these two chapters, Schlosser talks about the workers in fast food restaurants. What important ideas about these workers does he stress? You can discuss who they are, the challenges they face and the inequality one might find in their work. Please be thorough and explore the ideas with complexity and thoughfulness.


Fast Food Nation Chapters 2 and 3

You must first answer the question and then you must give a thoughtful, meaningful response to someone else’s post.

In these two chapters, Schlosser talks about the workers in fast food restaurants. What important ideas about these workers does he stress? You can discuss who they are, the challenges they face and the inequality one might find in their work. Please be thorough and explore the ideas with complexity and thoughfulness.


Fast Food Nation Chapters 2 and 3

You must first answer the question and then you must give a thoughtful, meaningful response to someone else’s post.

In these two chapters, Schlosser talks about the workers in fast food restaurants. What important ideas about these workers does he stress? You can discuss who they are, the challenges they face and the inequality one might find in their work. Please be thorough and explore the ideas with complexity and thoughfulness.


Fast Food Nation Chapters 2 and 3

You must first answer the question and then you must give a thoughtful, meaningful response to someone else’s post.

In these two chapters, Schlosser talks about the workers in fast food restaurants. What important ideas about these workers does he stress? You can discuss who they are, the challenges they face and the inequality one might find in their work. Please be thorough and explore the ideas with complexity and thoughfulness.


Fast Food Nation Chapters 2 and 3

You must first answer the question and then you must give a thoughtful, meaningful response to someone else’s post.

In these two chapters, Schlosser talks about the workers in fast food restaurants. What important ideas about these workers does he stress? You can discuss who they are, the challenges they face and the inequality one might find in their work. Please be thorough and explore the ideas with complexity and thoughfulness.


Fast Food Nation Chapters 2 and 3

You must first answer the question and then you must give a thoughtful, meaningful response to someone else’s post.

In these two chapters, Schlosser talks about the workers in fast food restaurants. What important ideas about these workers does he stress? You can discuss who they are, the challenges they face and the inequality one might find in their work. Please be thorough and explore the ideas with complexity and thoughfulness.


Fast Food Nation Chapters 2 and 3

You must first answer the question and then you must give a thoughtful, meaningful response to someone else’s post.

In these two chapters, Schlosser talks about the workers in fast food restaurants. What important ideas about these workers does he stress? You can discuss who they are, the challenges they face and the inequality one might find in their work. Please be thorough and explore the ideas with complexity and thoughfulness.


Fast Food Nation Chapters 2 and 3

You must first answer the question and then you must give a thoughtful, meaningful response to someone else’s post.

In these two chapters, Schlosser talks about the workers in fast food restaurants. What important ideas about these workers does he stress? You can discuss who they are, the challenges they face and the inequality one might find in their work. Please be thorough and explore the ideas with complexity and thoughfulness.


Fast Food Nation Chapters 2 and 3

You must first answer the question and then you must give a thoughtful, meaningful response to someone else’s post.

In these two chapters, Schlosser talks about the workers in fast food restaurants. What important ideas about these workers does he stress? You can discuss who they are, the challenges they face and the inequality one might find in their work. Please be thorough and explore the ideas with complexity and thoughfulness.


Fast Food Nation Chapters 2 and 3

You must first answer the question and then you must give a thoughtful, meaningful response to someone else’s post.

In these two chapters, Schlosser talks about the workers in fast food restaurants. What important ideas about these workers does he stress? You can discuss who they are, the challenges they face and the inequality one might find in their work. Please be thorough and explore the ideas with complexity and thoughfulness.