Minimum Wage: An Employer's View

Michele Norris talks with Robert Mayfield, who owns four Dairy Queens and a Wally's Burger Express in the Austin, Texas, area. Mayfield says a raise in the federal minimum wage would force him to cut back on the hours of many of his workers, and may lead to cutbacks in staff.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

We're now going to hear from an employer who has a direct stake in this debate. He's Robert Mayfield and he owns four Dairy Queens and a Wally's Burger Express in the Austin, Texas area. He joins us from member station KUT in Austin. Mr. Mayfield, glad you're here.

Mr. ROBERT MAYFIELD: Oh, thanks.

NORRIS: Now, let me understand something, you pay your employees slightly more than the minimum wage right now, but you're opposed to a hike in the minimum wage. Help me understand that.

Mr. MAYFIELD: Sure. Our starting pay is between $7 and $7.50 an hour. Of course, we don't do that because we're just nice guys. We do that because we have to pay at least that in order to attract good help. The labor market bids up an employee's services to whatever the market is and right now the market is $7 to, you know, $7.15. When this happens, and that's the least you can pay then the good employees are going to demand a good bit more. And they will get it.

NORRIS: The people who are advocating this say it actually stimulates the economy. I think you don't buy that?

Mr. MAYFIELD: Well, there's - I don't see - I've never seen any evidence of that. I don't see how it could possibly help. What it would do though it's not going to help the people if they say they want to help. These people are going to get more money, yeah. But they're not going to be able to have any better standard of living in all likelihood because of the inflation that it will cause.

NORRIS: And you're saying in your case, your employees might make more but they might not work as many hours?

Mr. MAYFIELD: Yeah, that's a direct detriment of the minimum wage. And what's pretty insidious about it is people that we might have considered hiring, we wouldn't be hiring. If we can replace them by what amounts to automation be it a call center or in most cases that the fast-food restaurants already have is a self-serve drink system in our dining room - that directly replaced one employee that, you know, that just didn't get hired because of the position is not there.

NORRIS: Mr. Mayfield, thanks so much.

Mr. MAYFIELD: Sure, you're welcome.

NORRIS: That was Robert Mayfield, he owns four Dairy Queens and a Wally's Burger Express in the Austin, Texas, area.

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