Since Seattle, Washington's Minimum Wage Ordinance went into effect on April 1, many have looked to the city as a sort of litmus test, specifically how the local economy is able to bear the weight of a $15 minimum wage.
Though the ordinance allows for the changes to become fully implemented over the next 3 or 7 years, depending on the size of the business, it has already proven to be too much for some owners to handle.
Now, as financial experts get a look at the newest hiring data from Washington, it appears that one particular Seattle sector is feeling the pinch of the historic measure in an eye-catching way.
Using employment data from the last five years, the American Enterprise Institute found that Washington state as a whole has seen an increase of about 5,800 restaurant jobs thus far in 2015, while Seattle has seen a decrease of 700 in the same time period.
It's worth noting that Washington has one of the highest state minimum wages at $9.47, though it's still significantly lower than Seattle's.
Proponents of Seattle's ordinance argue that the move is the correct course of action to address income inequality and to make the city's high cost of living more manageable. But business owners like Ritu Shah Burnham would be likely to disagree.
Burnham was forced to close the doors of her Z Pizza restaurant because she simply couldn't afford to stay open, despite her best efforts:
"I’ve let one person go since April 1, 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."
Though it's too early to make a definitive call on the data, it certainly seems telling that Seattle's seeing a decline in restaurant employment in a state that appears to otherwise be experiencing an industry boom.