With a new poll showing more than 7 out of 10 of their local customers supporting a $15 minimum wage, Capitol Hill business owners and representatives from some of the largest employers on the Hill are gathering Monday afternoon for a closed-door meeting to discuss “income inequality” in Seattle — and how the neighborhood’s business community wants to address it.
CHS reported earlier this month on the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce “Income Inequality Members Only Discussion” being held at Elliott Bay Book Company as an “opportunity for questions and answers, feedback from members and discussion at the event.” The Chamber is also conducting a member survey of the hundreds of area businesses and organizations it represents “to accurately reflect Chamber members concerns and opinions on the matter.”
If the results are anything like the recent poll data released by research firm EMC, the road to a $15 minimum wage should be a smooth one on Capitol Hill. The full report is below. The survey asked likely Seattle November 2014 voters to indicate whether or not they support the boosted minimum wage — “A proposal is being considered to set the minimum wage in the City of Seattle at $15 an hour” — 68% of respondents indicated support with the Capitol Hill-area “District 3” number coming in at 71%. Interestingly, the survey method indicated that support strengthened after additional questioning regarding the boost. It also found lukewarm — at best — support for potential amendments to a $15 wage including including tips in the minimum wage.
Capitol Hill’s entertainment-dominated economy has a big stake in how the debate over the $15 minimum wage plays out. While Mayor Ed Murray has convened an Income Inequality Task Force to form recommendations for moving forward on raising the minimum wage in the city, firebrand City Council member Kshama Sawant continues her push for a ballot initiative if the rest of City Hall doesn’t move quickly enough on the issue. Capitol Hill business owners, not surprisingly, have expressed a plurality of positions around the minimum wage — CHS talked with food and drink owners and found many in support of the higher wage. Still, others have already been clear in their opposition.
Fans of Capitol Hill independent restaurant economy worried about a higher minimum’s impact on small businesses might find some hope in this Federal Reserve study that found jacking up the minimum wage killed McJobs — and, mostly, replaced them:
While the hikes had a “small” impact on jobs, the economists found, they had a substantial impact on businesses. In states where employers were asked to pay their workers more, fast-food restaurants were more likely to close. At the same time, new restaurants became more likely to open, at least in Illinois and New Jersey. In California, the story was slightly different. More fast-food joints shuttered up, but there wasn’t a significant jump in openings. As a result, employment fell, but as the paper notes, the reduction “was small and sometimes indistinguishable from zero.”
Thursday, Madison’s First Hill McDonald’s will be the target of a city and nationwide protest against “big burger chains,” according to mcpoverty.com.
CHS is a member of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and will be attending the Monday meeting. The full EMC Research report on the Seattle $15 minimum wage poll is below.