Effects of Automation on American Workers
Nice article on GQ Magazine Feb 2020
When McDonald’s began experimenting with automated kiosks for customers to place their orders, the company’s former CEO Ed Rensi blamed it on movements to raise the minimum wage. In a 2016 post for Forbes, he crowed, “I told you so. In 2013, when the Fight for $15 was still in its growth stage, I and others warned that union demands for a much higher minimum wage would force businesses with small profit margins to replace full-service employees with costly investments in self-service alternatives.” Despite Rensi’s self-congratulatory statements, there’s no empirical evidence that raising the minimum wage leads to job loss. But to carry Rensi’s argument to its obvious conclusion, automation is also cheaper than paying employees the current minimum wage, making it all the more appealing to companies like McDonald’s—which has consistently made between $21 and $28 billion in revenue each year since 2006.
The question of how to deal with the fallout from automating jobs out of existence is hotly contested.