By Matt McFarland, washingtonpost.com
A former McDonald’s chief executive has warned that raising the minimum wage will spur unemployment as companies will instead employ robots that work for less.
“I guarantee you if a $15 minimum wage goes across the country you’re going to see a job loss like you can’t believe,” said Edward Rensi in an appearance on Fox Business Network Tuesday. “It’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries.”
The minimum wage has been a hot topic this spring, with some states and employers deciding to up their minimum wage to $15 an hour in the coming years. California will raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. New York City will get to $15 an hour within three years.
Rensi referred to discussion of raising the minimum wage as “nonsense,” and something that would destroy America’s middle class. Rensi said he’d recently attended the National Restaurant Show and saw first hand a range of robotic devices that are making their way into the restaurant industry.
Rensi, who was McDonald’s CEO from 1991 to 1997, isn’t the only fast food executive to be concerned about the consequences of raising wages. Wendy’s is currently testing self-service kiosks in a few of its restaurants and exploring broader uses of technology to mitigate rising labor costs.
Instead of a federal minimum wage, Rensi says states should set the figure based on cost of living in their region. He warned that a higher minimum wage would damage the economy and leave more citizens dependent on government support.