Other California Industries Want in on Fast Food’s Job-Killing Minimum Wage Hike

Craig Bannister | May 14, 2024

Now that California’s minimum wage hike for fast food workers has proven itself to be job-killing, business-wrecking and inflationary, other industry sectors in the Golden State are demanding the same.

Last month, on April 1, California’s minimum wage for fast food workers jumped to $20/hour, from the current minimum of $16 for all other workers. In response, some fast food chains, like Pizza Hut, began cutting jobs even before the higher costs kicked in.

Since the April 1 increase, nearly ten thousand fast food jobs have been eliminated in California.

On the other side of the fast food counter, customers are paying more, as the higher costs are passed on by businesses trying to make ends meet. In fact, fast food prices in California are up seven percent – the highest state price increase in the nation.

Undaunted, labor unions representing hotel, janitorial and convention workers in San Diego are now demanding that their mandated minimum wage be raised to $25 an hour – a nearly fifty percent increase in a single year.

Likewise, the state of California has enacted, and is moving forward, with a measure that’s set to raise the minimum wage for hospital workers, including gift shop cashiers and cleaners, to $25 an hour.

Not to be outdone, groups like One Fair Wage are calling for California to raise the statewide mandatory wage for workers in all industries to the $20 minimum that’s currently devastating the fast food sector.

It’s not like California has no way of knowing the consequences of mandating higher minimum wages, on either a piecemeal or statewide scale. A 2022 University of California, Irvine (UCI) study found a “strong negative relationship between minimum wage increases and employment,” as UCI Economist Deumark explains:

“This means, for example, that a $1 increase in the minimum wage in California would cause a loss of 22,000 jobs in the restaurant industry in the short term, and a cumulative loss of about 63,000 jobs after four years.”

And studies conducted for the West Hollywood City Council in 2024 found that the city’s previous increase in the minimum wage and paid time off mandates cost 22 percent of hourly workers their jobs and hurt 42 percent of employers.