A wave of minimum wage increases will pass costs on to business owners, leading to more automation and elimination of part-time jobs, an employment policy expert said Friday.
"Businesses just can't pass all of that off to people who are price sensitive," said Michael Saltsman, research director at the Employment Policies Institute, in a CNBC "Power Lunch" interview.
The EPI ran an ad in the New York Post this week casting a computer screen as "the new minimum wage employee." The move comes as officials in New York City and at the state level call for minimum wage hikes, particularly in restaurant and fast-food industries.
New York City's minimum wage currently sits at $8.75 per hour, higher than the federal level of $7.25. But the pay floor falls lower than $15 per hour levels passed in other big cities including Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco.
Proponents of higher wage floors argue that employees living on the minimum wage cannot keep up with basic costs of living. Restaurant and fast food employees are often hit the hardest, said Carmel Martin, executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress.
"The people working in this industry can't support their families," she said Friday on "Power Lunch."
Increasing wages boost the economy because employees have more money to channel into other businesses, she added.