Surprise! NYC Losing Restaurant Jobs to $15 Minimum Wage

Surprise! NYC Losing Restaurant Jobs to $15 Minimum Wage
A Great Depression breadline. No, things aren't actually that bad -- but De Blasio is working on it. (AP Photo)

The new minimum wage is killing NYC’s once-thriving restaurant scene.

I told you so. I told you so. I told you so. I told you so. I told you so.

The New York Post has the story because… what, you thought the New York Times would report this stuff? I’m not kidding. I searched the pages of the NYT for this story, but the closest I could find was a Nick Kristof weeper headlined, “The $70,000-a-Year Minimum Wage.” The subhead is even weepier, because gosh-darn it, “A small Seattle company shows that capitalism can have a heart.”

Even so, Kristof admits that running a high-tech payment processor isn’t exactly the same as the lower-skilled food-service industry:

It’s reasonable to be skeptical about how scalable this is. Price enjoyed publicity and new customers by being the first to go to $70,000; those benefits will not accrue to followers.

Jody Hall, a good liberal who worries about income inequality, owns a nearby cafe, Cupcake Royale. She chooses Gravity to process her payments, admires what Price has done and offers her own employees health care.

Yet she said that in the restaurant business, “the model would not nearly work.” Indeed, she worries that Seattle’s increase in the minimum wage to $15 will hurt small businesses like hers and may cost some jobs.

Which brings us back to the NY Post, where an industry group was quoted saying that “full-service restaurants recorded a 1.6 percent job loss [in 2018], which is the first recorded annual loss in two decades.” The new minimum wage hadn’t kicked in yet, but fast-food and fast-casual restaurants were already rushing to automate in anticipation, and this year looks to be even worse:

The survey also said about a third of respondents will eliminate jobs and most will raise prices this year because of the new $15-an-hour law backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state officials, which took effect on Dec. 31, 2018.

A total of 76.5 percent of full-service restaurant respondents reduced employee hours, and 36 percent eliminated jobs in 2018, the survey said.

Also, 75 percent of limited-service restaurant respondents reported that they will reduce employee hours, and 53 percent will eliminate jobs in 2019 as a result of the wage increases, according to the survey.

So the people who most need entry into the job market — those with few skills just starting out — will get shut out of entry-level work even worse than they already are.

Because “caring.”

They never, ever learn.