Whole Foods Proved Economists Right About Perils of Raising the Minimum Wage

(Image: Associated Press)
(Image: Associated Press)

As my colleague Sarah Lee previously reported, the grocery store Whole Foods embraced the long fought for $15 an hour minimum wage by “raise the wage” protestors, but workers quickly found the joy of having a significant pay raise short lived.


The employees who didn’t have these wages had them raised, while those who already did saw a slight increase more. Before they could celebrate, however, employees found they were working nine to 10 hours less than usual.

Naturally, this comes with troubles for the Whole Foods employees, like having to work harder in order to maintain the same level of quality service.

“Things that have made it more noticeable are the long lines, the need to call for cashier and bagging assistance, and customers not being able to find help in certain departments because not enough are scheduled, and we are a big store,” said one worker in California.

“Just about every person on our team has complained about their hours being cut. Some have had to look for other jobs as they can’t make ends meet,” they added.

“We just have to work faster to meet the same goals in less time,” one worker said.

Economists were recently polled, and a vast majority (74 percent) all agreed that boosting the minimum wage to $15/hr would have disastrous results, including layoffs. While no one has reportedly been laid off from Whole Foods as of yet, we can already see the drawbacks happening now.

And as far as Whole Foods employees are concerned, they got off lucky. The restaurant chain, Red Robin, was forced to lay off their busboys from 570 locations after wage hikes forced it to cut back on staff. The act saved them $10 million after raising the wage forced the restaurant into an imbalance.


To add to the point, according to the Foundation for Economic Education, New York experienced a massive decline in jobs not seen since 9/11 after it passed a $15/hr minimum wage hike.

Those who protest for extra money in their paycheck seem to lack the understanding that money doesn’t just come out of thin air, and businesses don’t just have an infinite pile of cash to throw around. Taking extra money means an imbalance that has to be corrected somehow. While this can be taken out on the consumer with raised prices, it’s common to watch the employees receive cuts from somewhere else, be it their pay or their job.

For Whole Foods employees, it just meant a cut to their hours. They still have their jobs, unlike the poor souls who used to work for Red Robin.

We should probably listen to the economists warning us about raising the minimum wage. There is no “livable wage” when you don’t have a wage in the first place.


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