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Issues & Advocacy

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Minimum wage

Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to dramatically increase the federal minimum wage. The Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S. 2223, by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa), and the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 (H.R. 1010, by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif.) would raise the current federal minimum wage to $10.10 over two and a half years -- a nearly 40 percent increase -- and automatically index the wage to inflation each year after that, regardless of economic conditions. The legislation also calls for increasing the minimum cash wage for tipped employees under federal law until it reaches 70 percent of the federal minimum wage. This means the minimum cash wage for tipped employees would triple, in stages, to $7.07. The wage then would be indexed to inflation.

10 Reasons Why $10.10 Legislation Won’t Work

Impact of Mandatory Wage Hikes

Alarmingly, the nation is experiencing the lowest labor participation rate in three decades. Unemployment in the U.S. remains at 5.9 percent. Teen unemployment is at 20 percent, with higher rates in some urban and rural areas. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9.3 million Americans are unemployed, and another 7.1 million are involuntarily working part-time. An astounding 698,000 persons are classified as “discouraged workers” by BLS and, therefore, are not accounted for in the unemployment rate. These are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. Collectively, 18.2 million Americans are unemployed, involuntarily working part-time or have given up on finding a job.

As businesses struggle to recover from the economic recession, dramatic, mandatory wage increases such as those proposed under the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 would place yet another financial burden on business owners who are already feeling the pressures of a weak economy and additional costs and regulatory complexity associated with the Affordable Care Act.

Industry impact

Restaurants are a critical provider of employment to millions of individuals. They are labor-intensive businesses that already devote about a third of their sales to wages and benefits. Pre-tax profit margins for restaurants typically range from 3 to 6 percent. Many restaurateurs would be forced to limit hiring, increase prices, cut employee hours or implement a combination of all three to pay for the wage increase. According to National Restaurant Association research, 58 percent of restaurant operators increased menu prices and 41 percent reduced employee hours following the 2007 minimum wage increase.

Young people across the country look to restaurants for their first jobs. A mandatory wage increase could further restrict opportunities for young and less-skilled individuals.

Download the National Restaurant Association’s expanded issue brief on the minimum wage.

View the current minimum wage rates map.

NRA contacts: Angelo Amador, Matt Walker

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