Yesterday's N&O ran an article about how some RTP restaurants have decided to start paying more than the minimum wage. Is this the result of a sudden infusion of social consciousness? Maybe in some establishments whose owners feel strongly about social justice. But why now, as opposed to three or five years ago?
Any full explanation of these pay raises has to include the fundamental forces of supply and demand. The restaurants cited in the article are not greasy spoons; Pizzeria Toro and Monuts Donuts get rave reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor and Urbanspoon. And to maintain the quality that their customers expect, these eateries need workers with experience and strong customer skills. Higher wages reduce turnover and attract top job candidates.
Some restaurants also are starting to pool tips, with the goal of getting more cooperation among the wait staff. Such a move also alleviates the risk of getting stuck with a table of stingy tippers.
Assuming no action at the federal or state level on the minimum wage, I envision a situation where those just getting started find minimum wage jobs in chains and small generic establishments. Those who like the work and are talented move up to higher paying positions.
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