There were about 10.7 million Americans employed in the restaurant industry in May 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics program. Grocery stores employ the next highest number of low-wage workers at under 1 million.
The federal minimum wage is currently at $7.25, but some individual states and cities have enacted higher pay. As of this year, 29 states and two dozen major cities have minimum wages above $7.50, according to the Pew Research Center.
Many economists and restaurant owners worried a higher minimum wage would kill jobs and raise prices, but cities like New York and San Francisco haven’t seen much impact yet. A new report from the New School recently found the restaurant industry had thrived in NYC years after passing higher wages.
Here’s how increased minimum wages have impacted the restaurant industries of New York City, Seattle, the Bay Area, Chicago, and Washington DC.