Data show that following the labor movement’s “Fight for $15” victory, which imposed steep annual increases in mandatory wages for workers, New York City experienced its sharpest decline in restaurant jobs in nearly 20 years.
Restaurants tend to operate on famously low profit margins, typically 2 to 6 percent. So a 40 percent mandatory wage increase over a two-year period is not trivial.
In response to the minimum wage hikes, New York City restaurants did what businesses tend to do when labor costs rise: they increased prices and reduced labor staff and hours.
A New York City Hospitality Alliance survey also showed that three out of four full-service restaurants said they planned to reduce employee hours. Nearly half of those surveyed said they planned to eliminate some job positions in 2019.