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Economist's Notebook: Setting The Record Straight in the Wage Debate

August 16, 2013


National Restaurant AssociationSource: National Restaurant Association

In his latest commentary, the National Restaurant Association's Chief Economist Bruce Grindy provides data to correct recent erroneous claims about the restaurant industry. 

As the wage debate intensified in recent weeks, mischaracterizations of the restaurant industry have increased in frequency.  Economist’s Notebook takes a look at some recent assertions, and provides data to help set the record straight.  This blog post will be updated as additional erroneous claims are made about the restaurant industry. 

Claim: The restaurant industry is full of minimum-wage workers who are struggling to support families.

Reality: Minimum-wage workers make up a small proportion of the restaurant workforce, and a large proportion of them are young, students, working part-time, and living in households with above-average incomes.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of minimum wage workers in the U.S. are employed in industries other than restaurants.  Nearly 1.6 million individuals earned the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour in 2012, according to BLS.  Of these, 30 percent (or 503,000) worked at eating and drinking places.

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