Some of these wage hikes are the latest step on a tiered increase to $15.
The start of a new year always coincides with the start of new legislation across the country. Some parts of the recently-passed federal tax bill will take effect at the start of 2018. On the state level, a notable new law is that marijuana officially becomes legal in California on January 1. And is often the case this time of year, changes to the minimum wage will also take effect in a number of states: this year, 18 states to be exact—changes that can have a significant effect on the restaurant industry.
As Nation’s Restaurant News explains, none of these minimum wage hikes come out of the blue—or even represent major one-time adjustments for that matter. In eight of those states—Alaska, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio and South Dakota—the increases are due to annual cost-of-living index adjustments. Meanwhile, in the other ten states, the changes are part of a larger, multi-year ramping up of the minimum wage to reach a set level like $12 or $15 per hour. The states where this is the case are Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
As you probably recall, minimum wage increases within the restaurant industry, especially for fast food workers, have been a big story over the past few years. The “Fight for $15” campaign continued to be active in 2017, including holding protests around the country on Labor Day. This past year, we also saw studies rolling in looking at how increases in minimum wage have affected the restaurant industry with a couple focused on the changes to minimum wage in Seattle ending up with somewhat different results. An initial study from University of California-Berkeley suggested that increases in the city’s minimum wage as it ratchets up to $15 haven’t hurt restaurant jobs, but another report from the University of Washington suggested that though jobs remained the same, hours and take-home pay dropped. Consider this a story you’ll continue to hear about in 2018 and beyond.