Are Self-Serve Beer Stations At Target Field A Response To Minimum Wage Hikes?


At Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota, baseball fans will soon be able to get their own beers.

According to ESPN, self-serve beer kiosks will debut at the All Star Game later this month. Those wanting beer can go to a cashier and purchase a pre-paid card which they can then use to buy a selection of beers in pretty much any volume they want.

Seems pretty cool to me. I try to get out to Target Field once a year for a Twins/Yankees series, and I’m looking forward to my beer purchase being a little less arduous.

But part of me wonders if this isn’t a response to Minnesota’s recent minimum wage hikes which became law earlier this year. The state will see a $3 per hour hike in its lowest allowable wage, going up to $9.50 per hour by 2016, and the minimum wage will be tied to inflation after that.

So the cost of low-skill, entry-level workers (like, say, the sort of people pouring beers at baseball games) is set to increase dramatically. Is it any wonder that a business like the Minnesota Twins is responding to that by automating some their beer service?

The sort of people who make the minimum wage are people who can’t command a higher wage in the market. Maybe they’re young and inexperienced. Maybe they’re disabled in some way, or have a learning disability. Maybe they have a checkered past and are trying to put their lives back together.

Whatever the reason, how does inflating the cost of employing those sort of people help them? How does pricing them out of the labor markets make their lives better?

It doesn’t. That’s the fundamental conceit of the minimum wage policy. It hurts those it is intended to help, and I think we’re seeing that at Target Field.