One fast-food CEO has a message for the workers toiling away in his industry: The minimum wage hike you’ve been clamoring for will only hurt you.
The consequences of raising the minimum wage include more youth unemployment, higher prices and increased automation, says Andy Puzder, the head of CKE restaurants, the parent company of Hardees and Carl’s Jr.
“Government needs to get out of the way,” Puzder told Yahoo! Finance in an interview Monday. “If government gets out of the way, businesses will create jobs and wages will go up.”
So far, the federal government has largely stayed out of the way. Congress has not taken up President Barack Obama’s call to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from $7.25. And with the exception of a few companies, like Costco, In-N-Out Burger and Boloco, businesses haven’t taken the initiative to create higher paying jobs.
Puzder made $4.4 million in 2012, according to Forbes. That’s about 291 times what a minimum wage worker makes in a year, if they’re earning the federal minimum and working full-time. The average fast food CEO made 721 times what minimum wage workers took in in 2013, according to a recent report from the Economic Policy Institute.
Puzder doesn’t address this imbalance. Instead he argues that raising the minimum wage would price teens and young adults out of a job because more experienced adults will want to flip burgers and make these higher wages. In states that have already raised the minimum that’s what’s happening, he said. More experienced workers are “willing” to take these higher paying fast food jobs, particularly after seeing their hours cut because of Obamacare.
Well let’s say all the fast-food joints install automatic burger making machines to replace their minimum wage burger flippers. Do you know what that means?
1. These machines cost about what 6 minimum wage workers make in an entire year.
2. These machines require maintenance—by trained professionals who make about $90K/yr
3. When one of these machines breaks down (as it inevitably will, because the fast-food CEO’s will want to cheap out on the maintenance in #2), who’s going to fix it? You can’t just fire the machine and replace it with another automatic burger machine.
4. That’s right, a highly trained robotics professional who charges $200/hr.
5. Automatic burger machines don’t even exist except for this one prototype which is not on the general market.