An increase in the New York City minimum wage is forcing some restauranteurs to either close up shop or raise their prices.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, New York City restaurants are suffering as a result of a two dollar increase in the minimum wage that took place at the end of 2016.
“It’s going up too fast,” said Jeremy Merrin, the owner of a chain of Cuban restaurants. Merrin said minimum wage increases forced him to close two of his New York City locations and raise prices at his others. “We can’t catch our breath,” he added.
Angelica Kitchen, long a staple of the East Village, closed their doors after 40 years of operation in response to the increased cost of labor mandated by the new wage policy. “I felt like I was being regulated in a way that took certain choices away from me that I felt belonged to me, rightfully, as a business owner,” owner Leslie McEachern said. “I’m not trying to undercut or underpay anybody, but I also don’t know what’s coming down the pike.”
Despite the negative effects of December’s increase, minimum wages in the city are set to increase again by another two dollars at the end of 2017.
Not all restaurant owners are lamenting the new wage policy. Jason Wang, the founder of Xi’an Famous Foods in Manhattan supports the wage increase policy. However, he claims that to offset the increase in the cost of labor, he was forced to raise his prices.
“No one is ever going to celebrate a price increase,” Wang said. “But I think that with the wage increases, people won’t see working in the food industry as a lowest-paying job you take if you can’t find work, and start viewing it as a career. It will be good for the industry in the long run.”
A study of the effect of minimum wage policies on restaurant employment revealed that minimum wage policies hinder job creation. After Seattle increased the city’s minimum wage from $11 to $15, they saw a 900 job drop in overall jobs in the restaurant industry. At the same time, the state of Washington, whose minimum wage remains at $11, saw consistent job creation in the restaurant industry, adding 6,200 jobs over the same time period.
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about economics and higher education for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org