News and Commentary

Seattle’s Minimum Wage Increase Resulted In Restaurants Being Less Clean

A new study has determined that the higher minimum wage in Seattle doesn’t just have a negative impact on jobs, it also has a negative impact on restaurants’ hygiene.

The study, conducted by professors from Indiana University, Ball State University, and Villanova University, measured the effects of the minimum wage each time Seattle increased it and concluded that every dollar increase in the minimum wage resulted in total health code violations increasing by 6.3%.

The reason: a higher minimum wage results in higher costs for restaurants, but they don’t want consumers to bear the brunt of the cost through higher prices, so they resort to reducing hours for employees while increasing the amount of work required for these employees, thus taking away from the attention necessary for hygiene.

Most of the increases in health codes infractions are for minor violations, known as blue-code violations, rather than red-code violations which would result in restaurants being shut down altogether. But blue-code violations do affect public health, as they constitute “things like — insect, rodents, animals, employee cleanliness and hygiene; toilet facilities — whether they were properly constructed, supplied and cleaned; the garbage has been properly disposed of,” according to co-author Srikant Devaraj.

National Public Radio (NPR) Social Science Correspondent Shankar Vedantam cautioned that the study didn’t necessarily suggest that these health code violations would continue in the long run:

It could be that over five years, this is going to look very different as the effects of the minimum wage shakeout. It could also be this is the effect of raising the minimum wage.

And one implication is if cities are going to raise the minimum wage, one thing they might want to do is step up inspections of these more minor violations because you can expect that businesses that face higher costs might sometimes seek to cut corners.

This is all just basic economics: wages are the cost of labor. If that cost of labor artificially increases, then companies have to offset costs elsewhere. That’s why a study in June found that Seattle’s $13 per hour minimum wage resulted in a decline of $1,500 in yearly income for employees earning lower wages.

The fact is that a higher minimum wage only benefits leftist politicians who use it as a means to pontificate about how they care about the little guy, even though it’s the little guy who bears the brunt of the minimum wage increase, whether in higher prices, less income or poorer hygiene in restaurants.

H/T: Washington Free Beacon

Follow Aaron Bandler on Twitter.

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