Not bad: Some US restaurant workers may get $22 per hour
Average hourly wages for the industry have climbed 21 percent since February 2020, reaching $18.99 in November last year.

With the average hourly wages of restaurant workers in the US already reaching $18.99 by November last year, they can earn even more in 2023 – a story completely different to what see in Pakistan where wages are either stagnant or even reduced.

This trend in Pakistan very more painful for the workers as the latest figures show the inflation in the week ending Jan 5 surged by 30.60 percent when compared with the same period last year as the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) said the increase in the Sensitive Price Index (SPI) had spread across all income groups, but the lower and middle income groups were the worst-hit.

Coming back to the US, more than half of the states will hike their minimum wage this year, reported CNBC.

For example, California’s state minimum wage rose to $15.50 an hour on Jan 1, but depending on the results of an ongoing court battle, fast-food workers in the state could find themselves earning as much as $22 an hour this year. And industry lobbyists say similar legislation could pass in states like New York and Michigan.

Higher pay has been the primary solution by bars and eateries to attract enough workers to meet demand. The restaurant industry was already struggling with a labor crunch before the pandemic turned the problem into a full-blown crisis.

In recent months, the labor shortage has eased but hasn’t completely disappeared. Employment at eating and drinking places was down 3.9 percent in November compared with February 2020 when adjusted for seasonality, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Meanwhile, average hourly wages for the industry have climbed 21 percent in the same period, reaching $18.99 in November last year. And while labor costs are hard to cut since restaurants need enough workers to keep up with orders, other costs to keeping a restaurant open, like ingredients and electricity, have also grown more expensive, further eating into operators’ profits.

If California’s government has its way, average hourly pay for restaurant workers could soar in 2023. Last year, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law that creates a 10-person council to govern the wages and working conditions for workers of restaurant chains with more than 100 locations nationwide.

The restaurant industry opposed the law, called the FAST Act, and garnered more than 1 million signatures from California residents to hold a referendum in 2024 aimed at overturning the law. Opponents say that the law circumvents existing labor and franchising regulations and could kill fast-food jobs.

The state tried to forge ahead with its implementation anyway, but a coalition of restaurants sued, and a judge granted an injunction until Jan 13.

Seventeen other US states have Democratic legislatures and governors and could follow California’s lead. So far, however, no states have made meaningful progress toward enacting their own versions.

And it’s unlikely that restaurant workers will see any wage gains on the federal level this year. President Joe Biden has expressed support for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and the elimination of the tipped wage, which allows employers to pay workers as little as $2.13 an hour. If the hourly rate, combined with tips, doesn’t add up to a locality’s pay floor, employers are supposed make up the difference, but labor advocates say that often doesn’t happen. The tipped minimum wage was last raised in 1991.

That’s good news for restaurant operators who are looking for ways to cut down on their labor costs. Out of 3,000 operators surveyed by the National Restaurant Association in November, 89 percent said that labor costs are “a significant challenge.” Nearly a fifth of respondents said that they are slowing hiring in response to higher costs elsewhere.

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