The new minimum wage is killing NYC’s once-thriving restaurant scene

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New York City restaurants are eliminating jobs, reducing employee hours and raising prices due to the higher costs of the $15/hour minimum wage.

A once-growing industry is contracting, according to an online survey conducted by the New York City Hospitality Alliance, an association representing restaurants in the city.

Last year, “full-service restaurants recorded a 1.6 percent job loss, which is the first recorded annual loss in two decades,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the trade group.

The survey also said about a third of respondents will eliminate jobs and most will raise prices this year because of the new $15-an-hour law backed by Gov. Cuomo and other state officials, which took effect on Dec. 31, 2018.

A total of 76.5 percent of full-service restaurant respondents reduced employee hours, and 36 percent eliminated jobs in 2018, the survey said.

Also, 75 percent of limited service restaurant respondents reported that they will reduce employee hours, and 53 percent will eliminate jobs in 2019 as a result of the wage increases, according to the survey.

The governor, through a spokeswoman, defended state policies: “All New Yorkers deserve to make a living wage and under the governor’s leadership, more minimum-wage workers than ever before have received an increase in their wages. The fact is that increasing the minimum wage puts more money in the pockets of hardworking New Yorkers, which creates more demand for local businesses and increases economic activity.”

A spokeswoman for Mayor de Blasio didn’t respond with a comment.

The Hospitality Alliance said, “The results of this survey, and other industry trends, signal that a once-growing industry responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic impact has become stagnant.”