Natl. Restaurant Association Senior VP on Raising Minimum Wage: ‘Not Every Job is There to Sustain a Family of Four’

By Jose R. Gonzalez | February 16, 2016 | 5:34pm EST
Senior vice president of labor and workforce policy Alfonso Amador. (Photo: National Restaurant Association)

(CNSNews.com) – Commenting on the negative effects of raising the minimum wage through federal legislation, an official with the National Restaurant Association said that “not every job is there to sustain a family of four.”

At a Feb. 9 panel discussion on Capitol Hill sponsored by the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), National Restaurant Association senior vice president Alfonso Amador said, “There seems to be a perception that every job needs to be able to maintain a family of four. Not every job is there to sustain a family of four.”

CEI held the event to discuss “regulatory threats to flexible employment and worker freedom.”  The National Restaurant Association is a trade association that advocates on behalf of the foodservice industry.

Last April, Sen. Patrick Murphy (D-Del.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) introduced the Raise the Minimum Wage Act in Congress to increase the national wage from its current $7.25 to $12 in the preceding five years.

Ryan Young, a CEI fellow, argued against a January 2015 20-state raise in the minimum wage.

“Millions of workers are getting a raise, but those raises come at a cost. Other workers directly pay for those raises through reduced hours, firings, benefit cuts, and other harms. Those workers and would-be workers have few defenders,” Young wrote on the CEI’s website.

On its website, the National Restaurant Association takes a stance against mandatory wage increases. 

“As businesses struggle to recover from the economic recession, dramatic, mandatory wage increases 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,” the website reads.

A spokeswoman for the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a low-wage worker advocacy organization, replied to Amador’s statement.

“Far from providing wages on which someone could support a family of four, the restaurant industry seems to pride itself on providing wages that can’t even support a single adult working full time,” NELP’s federal advocacy coordinator Judy Conti wrote in an email to CNSNews.com.

“According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, average wages for the vast majority of those who work as cooks, servers, bartenders, dishwashers and other non-managerial employees is about $10.25 per hour, or an average annual salary (assuming no vacations or time off) of about $21,000. For a single person in most parts of the country, that isn’t enough to cover the basics like housing, food and transportation,” said Conti.

The National Restaurant Association’s data, however, offer a different perspective on raising the minimum wage.

Restaurants “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,” the website reads.  

“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.”

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