No, raising the minimum wage won't lead to $38 burritos

Burrito on colorful blue plate and orange background
Photo: The Washington Post (Getty Images)

Conservative commentators lost their collective mind over President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic rescue package—especially the part about doubling the federal minimum wage to a proposed $15 an hour. “If you want $15 minimum wage, don’t complain when your Taco Bell order costs $38 for a burrito,” said Jordan Rachel, a Turning Point USA contributor, in a January 16 tweet. If that sounds outlandish, it’s because it is. Fact-checking website PolitiFact put Rachel’s claim through its signature Truth-O-Meter, and soundly marked the claim as “false.”


Here’s why: first, T-Bell told PolitiFact that it already does business in places like New York, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., all of which have a higher minimum wage. Nary a $38 burrito in sight. “Taco Bell and our franchisees have already adapted to many minimum wage increases on a local level, and we are committed to maintaining our leadership in value on a national level,” Taco Bell said in a statement to PolitiFact. “For example, at our company-owned restaurants in New York City, where the minimum wage is $15 an hour, our Bean Burrito is $1.89 plus tax and Crunchwrap Supreme is $4.49 plus tax.”

Politifact also tapped economists to unpack the claim. One economist compared prices for two different types of burritos at a San Francisco Taco Bell to prices for the same burritos at a Taco Bell in Alexandria, Virginia, an area with a $7.25 minimum wage. In Alexandria, a Bean Burrito goes for $1.29, while a Burrito Supreme costs $4.19. At the San Francisco location, a Bean Burrito sells for $1.99, and a Burrito Supreme still costs $4.19.

Another thing: according to Politifact, the price of a Taco Bell burrito depends on a lot more than just worker salaries. “The price of burritos depends on the cost of land, taxes, etc., and many of these costs are higher in cities that have a minimum wage at or above $15,” one economist said.

The article cites quite a few other economists and definitely makes for an interesting read. Check it out here.



My favorite argument: “These minimum wage jobs aren’t the kind of work that is supposed to be a career. It’s the kind of job for teenagers to make spending money.”

So all these places that are ‘minimum wage’ should only be open summers and after school hours, but close early enough for the kids to be home at a decent time on school nights.