Ohio Minimum Wage Hike Leads to Massive Layoffs at Fast-Food Chain

Ohio experienced a rise in its minimum wage in 2024, increasing from $10.10 to $15 per hour. While this change aimed to benefit low-income workers, it triggered unintended consequences for the fast-food industry. Burger King, a major chain in Ohio, announced substantial layoffs across the state, attributing them to the minimum wage hike. In this blog post, we will delve into the repercussions of this wage increase on the fast-food chain, its workforce, and its customer base.

The Minimum Wage Hike and Its Rationale

The increase in Ohio’s minimum wage was sanctioned by voters in November 2023 through the Raise the Wage Ohio ballot initiative. The initiative proposed a gradual rise from $10.10 to $15 per hour by 2026, with yearly adjustments for inflation. This change also extended to tipped workers, whose minimum wage increased from $5.05 to $7.50 per hour.

Proponents argued that elevating the minimum wage would alleviate poverty, reduce income inequality, and stimulate the economy. They referenced studies demonstrating positive impacts on workers’ health, education, and productivity. Additionally, they contended that higher minimum wages wouldn’t lead to significant job losses or price hikes, contrary to opponents’ concerns.

The Fast-Food Chain’s Response and Its Reasons

However, the fast-food industry, a significant employer of minimum wage workers, opposed the initiative. They asserted that raising the minimum wage would compel them to make job cuts, reduce hours and benefits, increase prices, and compromise quality. Concerns were also raised about the potential acceleration of automation and outsourcing, replacing human workers with machines and foreign labor.

Burger King, with over 300 locations and 10,000 employees in Ohio, vehemently opposed the minimum wage hike. Claiming an inability to afford a $15 hourly wage, the chain announced a 20% reduction in its Ohio workforce, affecting about 2,000 workers. Additionally, remaining workers faced reduced hours and benefits, while menu prices increased by 10%. Burger King argued that these measures were necessary for its survival in the face of increased costs.

The Impact on the Workers and the Customers

The announcement of layoffs by Burger King elicited strong reactions from both workers and customers. Laid-off workers expressed feelings of betrayal and anger, emphasizing the unforeseen negative consequences of the minimum wage hike. Those retaining their jobs spoke of relief but also noted increased workload, reduced security, and heightened pressure from dissatisfied customers.

Customers, disappointed with the changes, voiced frustration and pledged to stop patronizing Burger King. Affordability concerns arose, with customers unwilling to pay more for potentially inferior food. They lamented a decline in service quality and missed the familiar faces of laid-off workers.


While Ohio’s minimum wage hike aimed to enhance the lives of low-income workers, it brought about adverse effects in the fast-food industry. Burger King’s response, including layoffs and price increases, underscored the complexities and drawbacks of such wage adjustments. The case of Burger King emphasizes that minimum wage increases may not offer a straightforward solution and can have significant trade-offs

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