Some empirical data are starting to accumulate. The following graphs are from AEIdeas. The first one shows the apparent impact of Seattle’s minimum wage law, which hiked the minimum to $15/hr, with the first increment to $11/hr taking effect last April. The graph shows restaurant employment in the Seattle Metropolitan Statistical Area and Washington other than the Seattle MSA from 2010 through Sept 2015.
There are a couple of things of interest here. One is the headline comparison: Restaurant jobs went up nearly 6% since January (5,800 jobs added to an original value of 87,000 jobs), while the city’s restaurant employment fell those 700 jobs (a drop a skosh under 1%). The other is the trend. Since January, restaurant jobs have risen at a high month-month rate, while Seattle’s restaurant job growth rate has been flat.
The shaded area are recessions. Only one other time since 1990 has Seattle’s restaurant employment fallen outside of a recession. That was in the year leading into the dot-com bust, with Seattle being nearly as techy as California’s Silicon Valley.