Economist: Minimum Wage Hike Could Mean Higher Food Prices - WBAY

Economist: Minimum Wage Hike Could Mean Higher Food Prices

Green Bay -

There were a number of demonstrations in solidarity to the nationwide protests to increase the federal minimum wage, including one outside a McDonald's on Green Bay's east side. 

Action 2 News looked at the balance between paying fast food workers more and the result it would have on consumers.

"Hold the burgers, hold the fries. Make our wages super-sized!" chanted a group of a dozen people on the sidewalk near the Main and Elizabeth Streets intersection Thursday morning.

No fast food workers were among those protesters. But they say their chants and posters are meant to stand in solidarity. Opponents of this idea say the request is unreasonable.

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association, a non-profit group supporting the food service industry, is one of them.

"If you double the minimum wage and that takes everybody's wages up, that's going to be a cost increase that a restaurant owner can't just absorb," says Pete Hanson, the association's Vice President of Public Affairs, said over the phone.

University of Wisconsin Green Bay Assistant Professor of Economics Thomas Nesslein says employers would have few options on how to react regarding their staff.

"They can adjust basically two ways -- they could cut jobs or they could cut hours," Nesslein said.

And that's not all, how much you pay for your meal could also be affected.

"They may try to adjust by raising, pushing prices forward - raise the price of goods," said Nesslein.

Occasional fast food consumer Shae Sortwell of Green Bay stood 50 feet away from the group at the Green Bay McDonald's rallying for a increase in the federal minimum wage.

But he's spreading another message. His sign read:  "Sacrifice for Success and Work: Don't Whine."

"As a customer, how would you feel if the cost of the food went up because of the cost of the labor?" Action 2 News asked Sortwell.

"I would obviously shop there less," he replied.

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