The $15 minimum wage was supposed to bring about the 'restaurant apocalypse.' Here's how 5 major cities are faring so far.
- Restaurants employ more minimum-wage workers than any other industry.
- With the movement to increase wages across the country, economists worried the policies would kill jobs and raise prices.
- So far, five cities that have raised wages had little change in employment after the policies went into effect.
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There were about 10.7 million Americans employed in the restaurant industry in May 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Employment Statistics program. Grocery stores employ the next highest number of low-wage workers at under 1 million.
The federal minimum wage is currently at $7.25, but some individual states and cities have enacted higher pay. As of this year, 29 states and two dozen major cities have minimum wages above $7.50, according to the Pew Research Center.Many economists and restaurant owners worried a higher minimum wage would kill jobs and raise prices, but cities like New York and San Francisco haven't seen much impact yet. A new report from the New School recently found the restaurant industry had thrived in NYC years after passing higher wages.
Here's how increased minimum wages have impacted the restaurant industries of New York City, Seattle, the Bay Area, Chicago, and Washington DC.
New York City's restaurant industry outperformed the rest of the US in job growth and expansion since it began raising wages in 2013.
Seattle voted to raise minimum wages to $15 an hour back in 2015. The hike had little impact on restaurant closures, but led to higher prices and shorter workdays.Advertisement
The rising minimum wage had little to no effect on the restaurant industry in the Bay Area.
Washington, DC, voted to raise the minimum wage for restaurant workers, but city lawmakers stopped it from ever happening.Advertisement
Five years ago, Chicago voted to raise minimum wages to $13 by 2019. After increasing wages from $10 to $10.50, the city saw little change in employment.
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