Jack in the Box CEO, Leonard Comma spoke at the ICR Conference Tuesday morning in Grande Lakes, Orlando, Florida. The ICR Conference is known as one of the most premier investment conferences in the world. Held annually, it sports industry leaders from many professional industries, sharing insights on current purchasing and financial trends.
As the minimum wage rises in states like California, Jack in the Box is considering replacing some employees with programmed robots. During his presentation, Comma said, “As we see the rising costs of labor, it just makes sense” to implement cost-effective technologies.
In the past, Jack in the box has used touchscreen kiosks at select stores. Although it increased the price of the average sale, the cost was too high at the time to justify widespread use.
Increasing Minimum Wage
At the ICR Conference, Mr. Comma discussed that California is soon to be the first state to enact a $15 minimum wage. He mentions that this change brings back automated checkout machines to the discussion table.
Californian is not the only state increasing the minimum wage. Eighteen other states including New York and Colorado are seeing significant increases to $10+ per hour.
The idea of replacing expensive labor with cheaper automation is not a new topic, many other companies have discussed the possibility of reducing labor cost. This raises concerns for everyone involved as this is the first serious discussions of enabling technology to replace cashier jobs on a widespread scale. Restaurants including Mc’Donalds, Wendy’s, and Pizza Hut have all considered an automated workforce in one way or another.
America and other developed countries are seeing more and more of these kinds of changes, both increases in minimum wage and labor automation. This brings about many questions as to whether or not increasing the minimum wage helps more people than it hurts. If the market cannot afford the more expensive labor, then more jobs will be lost to automation. In turn, this will reduce the number of people participating in the market and buying goods.