Is Seattle losing restaurant jobs as new minimum wage is phased in?

Nov 4, 2015, 2:46 PM | Updated: 5:06 pm
The latest claim from those analyzing Seattle’s new minimum wage asserts that the area lost r...
The latest claim from those analyzing Seattle's new minimum wage asserts that the area lost restaurant jobs because of the new wage, while the rest of the state grew. (AP)

Seattle’s economy may be booming with tech headlines, but another industry could be showing signs of strain.

That is according to Erin Shannon, the director of the Center for Small Business at Washington Policy Center, who told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson that Seattle is losing restaurant jobs in the wake of its $15 minimum wage implementation, while the rest of the state is adding similar jobs.

She said the latest numbers show that Seattle’s metropolitan area, which includes Seattle and some surrounding areas, has lost 700 restaurant industry jobs since the first of the year.

“In every other metropolitan area around the state, that number has increased,” she said. “In every other city and locality, they are creating restaurant industry jobs. And in the Seattle area, they are losing restaurant jobs.”

The Washington Policy Center is a right-leaning organization that promotes “market solutions.”

Shannon wrote more about the subject in a blog post and came to a conclusion that Seattle’s $15 minimum wage standard is the cause of job losses.

“What is different in Seattle than every other metropolitan area in Washington state?” she asked. “Well, it might be that $15 minimum wage.”

Despite Seattle passing a $15 minimum wage law, the rate has yet to fully go into effect; it is being phased in. Small businesses (500 employees or less) are expected to offer $15 per hour in seven years. Large employees have a three-year deadline. Large employers began offering $11 per hour in April. They are expected to raise that to $12.50 by January 2016, to $13.50 one year later and $15 by January 2018. Smaller businesses have a schedule that is more stretched out, offering $15 by January 2021.

Shannon wrote her blog post to refute a recent Puget Sound Business Journal article, “Apocalypse Not: $15 and the cuts that never came.” Her argument is the latest in a back-and-forth conversation that began even before the $15 minimum wage was implemented. Others caution against making any claims at all until adequate data is available, though that could take years.

Shannon claims that the Journal’s assertion that Seattle’s restaurant industry remained healthy after the initial implementation of a higher minimum wage is inaccurate. She notes the Journal stated that 5,227 food service permits have been issued in Seattle so far in 2015, indicating that the industry is growing. That would put the figure en route to surpassing the 5,458 permits issued in 2014, and the 5,415 in 2013.

“That doesn’t tell us anything about the state of employment and the state of jobs in the restaurant industry,” she said.

Shannon has a different argument. She says that because the new minimum wage was implemented, Seattle has lost 700 restaurant industry jobs. That decline comes despite the rest of the state showing a rise in the industry’s jobs. She relates the job losses to the new minimum wage implementation citing other data.

Dori agrees with Shannon’s argument.

“If we’re adding jobs everywhere else in the state and losing restaurant jobs in Seattle, I can’t think of too many other reasons why that would be,” he said.

Shannon believes this is the “tip of the iceberg” for the state of restaurant jobs in Seattle. She notes that higher wages will be phased in over time.

“It will be very telling to see if this trend of job losses in the Seattle area &#8212 that are limited to the Seattle area while the rest of the state is flourishing &#8212 continues,” she said.

Dori Monson on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dori monsonTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.

Dori Monson Show

Dori Monson

Dori Monson Show

Dori: Should you add a kangaroo to your Christmas wish list?

Strom – who has been raising both ‘roos and wallabies for 25 years on his preserve – had some words of marsupial-owning wisdom for Dori.
2 days ago
Dori Monson Show

Dori: Petition calls for entire Olympia School Board to resign after appointing felon

Barely one month after four Olympia School Board members unanimously appointed a convicted felon to fill a board opening, a no-confidence petition has been posted by community members, calling for the entire board to resign.
4 days ago
Dori Monson Show

Dori: FTX crypto scandal hits Washington bank, politicians

Unlike Bitcoin, “crypto is the Wild West” with no regulations on truth in advertising, Brewer added.
6 days ago
Apple Cup rivalry...
Dori Monson Show

Apple Cup rivalry: Couple’s ashes to be buried in UW, WSU helmets

The Apple Cup kicks off for UW and WSU this Saturday, but one married couple is taking the rivalry to their own eventual 'end zone.'
9 days ago
Tacoma carjacking...
Dori Monson Show

Dori: 9-year-old resolved to protect mom after Tacoma carjacking

Emily and her 9-year-old son tell the harrowing story of how they survived a recent carjacking at their Tacoma home.
11 days ago
Light Rail Homeless...
Dori Monson Show

Dori: Seattle rider giving up on mass transit after feeling ‘less safe’

After nearly 20 years of riding mass transit in the Seattle area, one woman tells Dori that she will be driving her car from now on.
13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Is Seattle losing restaurant jobs as new minimum wage is phased in?