Restaurants in the nation’s capital experienced their worst hiring period in 15 years, fueling speculation that wage hikes are reducing employment opportunities.
Employment in the food service industry fell in Washington, D.C. even as it continued to increase in the region. Restaurants shed 1,400 jobs in the first six months of 2016, a three percent decrease and the largest loss of jobs since the 2001 recession, according to an analysis from American Enterprise Institute scholar Mark Perry.
The steep drop was isolated to D.C. Neighboring suburbs in Virginia and Maryland added nearly 3,000 jobs over the same period, a 1.6 percent increase in hiring.
Perry said the hiring slowdown can be tied to recent minimum wage hikes in the city. Washington, D.C. began the year with a higher-than-average wage for tipped employees in the restaurant industry. Tipped employees in the nation’s capital earn a base wage of $2.77, almost 30 percent above the federal minimum of $2.13 that is used by Virginia.