Andrew Puzder: Minimum Wage, Automation, and Withdrawing as Trump’s Labor Secretary Nominee

Former CEO of CKE Restaurants Andrew Puzder discusses withdrawing his bid for labor secretary in the Trump administration, and why the $15 minimum wage destroys opportunities for low-skilled workers.


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When the minimum wage goes to $15 an hour “you kill jobs,” says Andrew Puzder—”businesses close, businesses reduce staff and automate, and businesses reduce the hours of the employees they have.”

But “what you can’t measure, which is really what hurts economic growth…is the number of restaurants that don’t open.”

Puzder is best known as the former head of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of fast fast-food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. When he was named CEO in 2000, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. Puzder focused his attention on improving the customer experience, improving the food quality, simplifying the menu, and emphasizing good service. Ten years later, CKE had quadrupled in value.

Puzder is known for his free-market views on labor issues, and in 2010, he co-authored Job Creation: How It Really Works and Why Government Doesn’t Understand It.

Last year, Donald Trump nominated Puzder as U.S. Secretary of Labor, but his confirmation was broadly contested by progressive groups, and he ultimately withdrew.

Puzder was born in 1950 and grew up in a working-class family in northeastern Ohio. He dropped out of Kent State to do what every Cleveland area Baby Boomer kid dreamed of—playing in a rock and roll band.

Reason’s Nick Gillespie sat down with Puzder at FreedomFest 2017, the annual libertarian conference in Las Vegas.


  1. The OMB numbers (arunf 10 10 minute mark) makes no sense, for instance at $9 an hour yo lose x number of jobs, and at $10. Mr. Puzder started t say, BLS, which would have made sense. I've said it before, living wages have localized COL (cost of living a decent life) and the business' ability to stay in business. The ability to stay in businesses is predicated on a competitive assessment what the customer base is willing to pay.

  2. The problem of a minimum wage near the level that causes few total job losses is that it
    prevents the people who need the jobs the most from competing on price with those who only kinda need the job. Why put your jobs in the inner city when the children of the middle class will do the job in the suburbs at the same price?

  3. I think we need to put a maximum wage in place. Since everyone's so concerned about the 1%, we should just cap their earnings, that way we don't have to worry about them anymore.

  4. If capitalism can't function paying someone a living wage, maybe it is time to consider alternatives (even $15 an hour is pretty shitty). And maybe we should question a system that needs perpetual growth, considering we live on a planet with finite resources? It is pretty clear machine automation is the future; we should embrace that instead of trying to keep humans working in redundant jobs. Nothing lasts forever, capitalism is no different; it seems to me we can either accept this and move on or try and keep it running at the expense of the vast majority of people and the environment.

  5. I am not sure how the capitalist system will be able to function in the near future(20 years)
    a lot of automation coming to replace low skilled workers if 60-70% of the population is unemployed
    who will buy the goods?
    I mean driver less cars/trucks/machines replacing waiters and flipping burgers and also automated cleaning machines
    ect time to change the school system and push the bright kids forward
    to help run the future
    We will have to accept not everyone is smart and just push the best forward.
    Which will also so lead to a gattaca type of situation where we we will select partners by the best genes for high intelligence.

  6. While 15 might be a bit too steep for most small businesses to operate, I don't think the current $7.50 is fair either. Something like $11 would be a fair wage considering the inflation since the last minimum wage increase. I realize that these jobs are meant for high school and college students, but back in the 60s and 70s, college students earning minimum wages could afford to pay a portion of their tuition fees – in addition to taking care of living expenses.

    But now, the millennial generation has been screwed twice over thanks to the Global Recessions and a minimum wage that failed to keep up with inflation. In other words, the Student Loan Crisis hit the millennial generation the hardest, and it's only normal for them to try to swing to the other extreme by demanding $15+ an hour.

  7. Privatize public education system, cut regulation, abolish the income and payroll tax, enact consumption tax, cut spending, abolish the Federal Reserve, end the drug war & abolish all minimum wage laws.

  8. Liberals don't give a damn about growth or jobs. They only care about BEING LIBERAL, virtue signaling about how virtuous they are.

  9. Unfortunate people like this are who the "progressives" determine as evil. If they cannot find any of his arguments as legitimate. I don't know what will.

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