Do you feel it? A shift in the labor market, akin to the calm before a storm. The once-promising entry-level career in the fast food industry is gradually fading away, a trend that may not be immediate but is certainly on the horizon. Economic influences beyond the Gem State are at play, slowly but surely reshaping the job landscape for Idaho workers. 

Can you recall your first job? For some in our state, it may have been working on a farm or the family business. For many Americans, it's landing a job at Burger King, Wendy's, or McDonald's. These jobs, which hold a special place in many of our hearts, are vanishing due to various market forces. 

Young woman eating greedily big tasty hamburger
Vadym Petrochenko, ThinkStock Images

Our investigation into this issue was fueled by weeks of conversations with current and former fast-food workers and managers. Their words paint a stark picture: 'It's getting harder and harder to find people who want to work in our industry,' they tell us. 

California has witnessed the harsh reality of this issue, with thousands of workers losing their jobs due to the state's mandatory twenty dollar-an-hour for fast food workers. The owners, faced with unsustainable labor costs, have been forced to lay off workers and turn to technology. 

#1 Gavin Newsom's California

It's not just California, where technology has replaced humans. (Do you remember the first time you used a self-checkout at your favorite supermarket or when checking into an airline?) 

Several fast food restaurants greet you not with a person but with a giant screen where you place your order, pay, and get a number. Either a human will bring you your food, or they'll call your number to the front.  

Managers tell us that working without a full complement of shift workers is common, especially on the weekends. "It's a tough job, and these kids have to take a lot of verbal abuse, " one manager explained. 

Fast Food Restaurant Chain Arby's Purchases Buffalo Wild Wings
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Sometimes, managers don't show up, as was the case at this local establishment in the Eagle/Star area. "Thanks for your patience, sir," a worker told me. He continued, "We only have two people working at the restaurant. I keep calling, but no one will answer their phone."

The industry will continue to automate due to the labor shortage and labor costs. We hope we're wrong, but don't be surprised if one day a computer takes your order, cooks your food, and delivers it to you with a robotic smile.

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