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

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
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.

Advertisement

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.