Moments after celebrating his wage being raised to $11 per hour thanks to the passage of a minimum wage law, Seattle resident Devin Jeran discovered that he would soon be out of a job.
What Happened? Three years ago Seattle passed a local ordinance directing the minimum wage to slowly be raised to $15 per hour over the course of seven years. In February of this year the wage increased to specifically $11 an hour for franchise owners, much to Z Pizza employee Devin Jeran’s delight.
“I definitely recognize that having more money is important, especially in a city as expensive as this one,” he recently remarked to local station KCPQ.
There was just one problem — his wage raise was to cost him his job.
Why Is He Losing His Job? Z Pizza owner Ritu Shah Burnham explained to KCPQ that she simply can’t afford to continue complying with the city’s minimum wage laws.
“I’ve let one person go since April 1,” she said. “I’ve cut hours since April 1. I’ve taken them myself because I don’t pay myself. I’ve also raised my prices a little bit. There’s no other way to do it.”
And so she plans to shutter her restaurant come August and is even considering moving, due in part to a stipulation requiring that small businesses that are part of a franchise implement the higher wages sooner. Businesses not tied to a franchise, on the other hand, have the full seven years.
“I know that I would have stayed here if I had 7 years, just like everyone else, if I had an even playing field,” Burnham said. “The discrimination I’m feeling right now against my small business makes me not want to stay and do anything in Seattle.”
How Does Jeran Feel About This? He has plenty of concerns about claims made by local minimum wage protesters that a hike would make life better.
“If that’s the truth, I don’t think that’s very apparent,” he noted. “People like me are finding themselves in a tougher situation than ever.”
No kidding …
Independent Journal Review: Restaurants In Seattle are Closing Down at an Alarming Rate, Is the $15 Minimum Wage a Factor?
NPR: Seattle Restaurants Scramble To Pay A Higher Minimum Wage
AEI: The new ‘restaurant math’ of Seattle’s $15 an hour minimum wage is starting to ‘break the system’
What Lessons Can Be Learned From This? Minimum wage laws usually help nobody — not employers, not employees, and certainly not small businesses. Jeran and Burnham are proof of this, though they are just two among many, many, many more.