184 American Businesses Set Back by Minimum Wage Increases

February 21, 2020

By David Flemming

Advocates for a higher minimum wage like to point out stories of workers who “deserve a higher wage” for any number of reasons. These stories tend to seemingly outweigh the number of stories of people owning businesses who endure hardships because of a higher minimum wage. Whereas employees may seem quite willing to voice their displeasure, businesses are inherently less so. After all, in a state where social justice is at its zenith, who is to say that a boycott or protest could not turn a mere hardship into a business foreclosure in Vermont?

Advocates for a higher minimum wage like to point out stories of workers who “deserve a higher wage” for any number of reasons. These stories tend to seemingly outweigh the number of stories of people owning businesses who endure hardships because of a higher minimum wage. Whereas employees may seem quite willing to voice their displeasure, businesses are inherently less so. After all, in a state where social justice is at its zenith, who is to say that a boycott or protest could not turn a hardship into a business foreclosure in Vermont?

The business economy across America is strong and thriving, which leads many Vermonters to gain the false impression that Vermont businesses are also strong and thriving. Not true. In 2017, 494 Vermont businesses started up resulting in 1,484 new jobs, whereas 1,481 jobs were lost when 525 businesses shut down. A net gain of 3 jobs before the minimum wage increased is hardly the kind of growth Vermont needs.

The average person walking by businesses sees buildings larger and seemingly worth more than the average Vermont home. It is easy to make the intuitive leap that they can afford to pay a little extra to their low-income employees.

They sense that profits will always be somehow suspended above costs. As such, a higher minimum wage may bite into profits, but the pay discrepancy between business owner and employee will forever remain. This can hardly be more exaggerated.

Employees earning a steady paycheck from a business are likely unaware that the very opening of a business to employ them has likely set the business owner into a great deal of debt. Thus, while they receive a greater portion of the revenue than the employee, most of this is often needed to pay down the interest, and if the business survives, the principle on the loan. It can be decades before the owner can actually make a “positive return on investment.” In the meantime, they often scrape by, and perhaps get a second job.

And indeed that debt is often too much to handle. 99% of Vermont businesses are small businesses. Many cannot afford increased expenses.

Vermont has one of the highest minimum wages in the country, but even states with lower minimum wages which have more slowly increased have forced otherwise-viable employers out of business.

After a minimum wage increase, these 184 American businesses chose 1 or more of the following between 2015-19:

1) Laid off employees

2) Gave employees fewer hours

3) Increased prices

4) Closed down

(to see stories click here)

5 Thread Factory LOS ANGELES, CA
A.G. Ferrari BERKELEY, CA
Abbot’s Cellar SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Abrio Care FLAGSTAFF, AZ
Annisa NEW YORK CITY, NY
Apparel Manufacturer OAKLAND, CA
Ashley Furniture COLTON, CA
Associated Supermarkets NEW YORK, NY
Bacci Chocolate Design Inc. SWAMPSCOTT, MA
Betty’s BUFFALO, NY
Between the Buns POTSDAM, NY
Black Oak Books BERKELEY, CA
Blue Moon Mexican Café WOODCLIFF LAKE, NJ
B-Man’s Teriyaki and Burgers PASADENA, CA
Bob and Ron’s Fish Fry ALBANY, NY
Bocanova OAKLAND, CA
Books Inc. BURLINGAME, CA
Bookworm Tri-Cities KENNEWICK, WA
Boot and Shoe Service OAKLAND, CA
Buster’s Restaurant and Bar FLAGSTAFF, AZ
By-Th’-Bucket Bar and Grill SANTA CLARA, CA
Cafe Chloe SAN DIEGO, CA
Café Clem BERKELEY, CA
Cafe Flore SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Caffe Delucchi SAN FRANCISCO, CA
California Composites PARAMOUNT, CA
California Health Institute LOS ANGELES, CA
Camino OAKLAND, CA
Cantina 1910 CHICAGO, IL
Cascade Designs SEATTLE, WA
Chef Zorba’s Authentic Greek Cuisine DENVER, CO
China Dine-ah SOUTH CHINA, ME
China Fun Eatery NEW YORK CITY, NY
Cici’s Pizza WATERTOWN, NY
Citizen’s Band and Pinkie’s Bakery SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Clarion Hotel SEATAC, WA
Coffee Shop NEW YORK, NY
Coffee XChange TUCSON, AZ
Community Options Inc. MONTROSE, CO
Competitive Edge Research & Communications SAN DIEGO, CA
Cool Beans BELLINGHAM, WA
Country Host West FLAGSTAFF, AZ
Country Kids Child Development Center YAKIMA, WA
County Box & Pallet PRESQUE ISLE, ME
Coup des Tartes PHOENIX, AZ
Creative Kidstuff MINNETONKA, MN
Cultured Cafe FLAGSTAFF, AZ
Cybelle’s on Piedmont OAKLAND, CA
Da Silvano NEW YORK CITY, NY
Dee’s Route 202 Diner LEBANON, ME
Del’Rio Diner BROOKLYN, NY
Digger’s Deli VACAVILLE, CA
Dimple Records SACRAMENTO, CA
Dosa SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Doughnut Dolly OAKLAND, CA
Eagle Rock Lumber Company LOS ANGELES, CA
Ebbett’s Good to Go OAKLAND, CA
El Palacio Mexican Restaurant and Cantina CHANDLER, AZ
Encuentro OAKLAND, CA
Farida HOLLYWOOD, CA
Farley’s on 65th EMERYVILLE, CA
Farmerbrown SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Flagstaff Nut House FLAGSTAFF, AZ
Flora OAKLAND, CA
Four Paws Flying Pet Resort EL CAJON, CA
Gabriela’s Restaurant and Tequila Bar NEW YORK, NY
Govnr’s Park Tavern DENVER, CO
Guild Seattle SEATTLE, WA
Hog’s Apothecary OAKLAND, CA
Holiday Inn Los Angeles Gateway TORRANCE, CA
Home of Chicken and Waffles WALNUT CREEK, CA
Hot Tamale OGDENSBURG, NY
Hullar’s Coffee Shop FAYETTEVILLE, NY
Icon Grill SEATTLE, WA
International Delights LAS CRUCES, NM
Interstate Kitchen & Bar DENVER, CO
Ivar’s Salmon House SEATTLE, WA
Jalapeños BELLINGHAM, WA
Jax Cafe MINNEAPOLIS, MN
Jorgi’s Supermarket, Edmore Location EDMORE, MI
Kentucky Fried Chicken PINETOP-LAKESIDE, AZ
Kid’s World Childcare PASCO, WA
La Belle Vie MINNEAPOLIS, MN
La Comida PARADISE, CA
La Panotiq MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA
Lagmitz Paper & Plastics BROOKLYN, NY
Lake Chad Cafe SEATTLE, WA
Lala’s Wine Bar + Pizzeria DENVER, CO
Lanesplitter Pizza OAKLAND, CA
Lark Creek WALNUT CREEK, CA
Las Margaritas TUCSON, AZ
Lasher’s Kitchen LONG BEACH, CA
Ledgeview Living Center WEST PARIS, ME
Longway’s Diner WATERTOWN, NY
Los Olivos PHOENIX, AZ
Louisa’s Cafe SEATTLE, WA
Lovin Oven Cakery LIBERTYVILLE, IL
Luna Park SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Luna’s Bistro BELLINGHAM, WA
Maier’s Market ANDOVER, NY
Marie’s Cafe & Catering CHICAGO, IL
Marlowe’s DENVER, CO
MasterPark SEATAC, WA
Match Analysis EMERYVILLE, CA
McDonald’s SAN FRANCISCO, CA
McGirk’s Irish Pub BINGHAMTON, NY
MDL Holiday Cinemas FREDERICK, MD
Medici House EAST AURORA, NY
Memphis Minnie’s SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Merit Medi-Trans CHICO, CA
Mesilla Valley Bakery LAS CRUCES
Mokka BERKELEY, CA
Montebello Dairy MONTEBELLO, CA
Mountain Heights Care Facility PATTEN, ME
Native Restaurant SANTA MONICA, CA
North Town Coffeehouse YAKIMA, WA
Nostalgia House Bakery PORT ORCHARD, WA
O’Doherty’s Pub SPOKANE, WA
O’Gara’s Bar and Grill FALCON HEIGHTS, MN
Oberweis Ice Cream OAK PARK, IL
Opa! Opa! SACRAMENTO, CA
Orange Leaf NORTH LIBERTY, IA
Original Joe’s SAN JOSE, CA
P.J. Clarke’s NEW YORK CITY, NY
Pann’s LOS ANGELES, CA
Paramount Cafe DENVER, CO
Peeve’s Public House FRESNO, CA
Peppermill Restaurant ROCHESTER, NY
Piggy Pat’s BBQ NEW HARTFORD, NY
Pizzaiolo OAKLAND, CA
Pizzetteria Brunetti NEW YORK, NY
Prospect Dairy Bar Restaurant PROSPECT, CT
Quizno’s CENTRAL POINT, OR
Reaching Beyond Care OAKLAND, CA
rePlanet ONTARIO, CA
RePlanet SACRAMENTO, CA
Retrofit Home SEATTLE, WA
R-N Market HANFORD, CA
Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria TUCSON,, AZ
Rock-N-Rogers SALEM, OR
Roosevelt Tamale Parlor SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Sackets Harbor Country Mart SACKETS HARBOR, NY
Satchmo’s BBQ FLAGSTAFF, AZ
Scoops LOS ANGELES, CA
Semifreddi’s Café BERKELEY, CA
Sen Yai PORTLAND, OR
Shlomo & Vito’s New York Delicatessen TUCSON, AZ
ShopRite WEST HARTFORD, CT
Shubert’s Ice Cream and Candy CHICO, CA
Sonogee Rehabilitation and Living Center BAR HARBOR
Source SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Spiro’s Pizza & Pasta PORT ORCHARD, WA
Sterling’s Family Childcare OAKLAND, CA
Subway SEATTLE, WA
Swiggs FRESNO, CA
Talbot’s Toyland SAN MATEO, CA
Tamarind Tree SEATTLE, WA
Tattered Page Bookstore MT. VERNON, WA
The Advocate BERKELEY, CA
The Almost Perfect Bookstore ROSEVILLE, CA
The Arc of Spokane SPOKANE, WA
The Berkshire DENVER, CO
The Brick Yard SAN FRANCISCO, CA
The Corner Store SAN FRANCISCO, CA
The Fix TUCSON, AZ
The Rolling Pin BAY SHORE, NY
The Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery WATERTOWN, NY
The Walrus and the Carpenter SEATTLE, WA
Thrift Town SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Tri Tipps VALENCIA, CA
Triple S Brewing Co COLORADO SPRINGS, CO
Tropical Smoothie Café LONG ISLAND, NY
Troy Greek Cuisine BERKELEY, CA
Victory Burger OAKLAND, CA
Village Stationers MENLO PARK, CA
Walker’s Healthy Pet MOUNT VERNON, WA
Water Wizz of Westerly WESTERLY, RI
Weaving Works SEATTLE, WA
Whiskey Junction MINNEAPOLIS, MN
Whole In The Wall Foods BINGHAMTON, NY
Wingate Lottery NORTH BAY, ON
Yakima Bindery YAKIMA, WA
Yusho Hyde Park CHICAGO, IL

Source: Faces of 15, Employment Policies Institute

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