Lately, there have been a number of protests held around the country regarding increasing the minimum wage to at least $15 per hour. These protests have been targeting the restaurant industry.
Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is not the answer to the job debate in the United States. The restaurant industry is one of the few that has been adding jobs despite the economic downturn.
The restaurant industry is one of opportunity — nine out of 10 salaried restaurant employees started in hourly positions, and it is the first job for nearly one in three. Restaurant jobs are a great training ground for all careers — these jobs teach critical skills including personal responsibility, teamwork, discipline and accountability.
The restaurant industry is vital to our economic growth. More than 10 percent of the U.S. workforce holds jobs in food service. And while employment nationwide grew by just 1.5 percent in 2012, restaurant industry employment grew 2.4 percent.
As our economy continues to recover, we should focus on preparing workers for high-growth positions and helping businesses expand, not on implementing policies that would eliminate jobs and shutter local businesses.
Patrick C. Conway
The writer is president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association (prla.org).