Regarding the Aug. 17 front-page article “As pay rises, will restaurants start rolling out the robots?”:
By hiding behind doomsday projections of a robotic workforce, the restaurant industry fails to confront the evidence. Rigorous economic research shows that past minimum-wage increases have not led to job loss — robot-induced or otherwise.
More important, this hype distracts from basic human decency. Raising the minimum wage to $12 by 2020 would mean more money in the pockets of 35.1 million real-life, human workers. That’s one in four people who work in this country who would see an average earnings increase of roughly $2,300 a year.
According to the National Restaurant Association’s reports, restaurant sales are expected to hit a record $709.2 billion in 2015. But that growth isn’t paying off for the 14 million people working in restaurants, who are twice as likely as the overall workforce to live in poverty and substantially more likely to rely on public assistance such as food stamps to make ends meet.
A higher minimum wage would help lift millions of workers — including restaurant workers — out of poverty. What’s more, it would save taxpayers more than $52 billion in the coming decade through reduced food stamp assistance alone. Restaurant customers — and taxpayers — should demand an end to poverty wages.
Rachel West, Washington
The writer is senior policy analyst for the Center for American Progress.