Category Archives: Research & Resources


Impact of Raising the Subminimum Wage on Restaurant Sales and Employment

New research examining the strength of restaurant industries in states without a subminimum wage reveal that abolishing the tipped minimum wage is good for business and workers.

Key findings include:

● Above-average employment growth occurs in the seven states that have already abolished the subminimum wage (Alaska, Montana, Nevada, Minnesota, California, Oregon, and Washington).

● Per capita restaurant sales increase as the tipped minimum wage increases. Growth in tipped restaurant worker employment as a percentage of total state employment tends to be higher in the states that pay tipped workers above $5 per hour, and is higher still in states that have abolished the subminimum wage.

● Eliminating subminimum wage does not decrease employment. In fact, the restaurant industry projects employment growth over the next decade of 10.5% in the seven states without a tipped subminimum wage, compared to 9.1% in states with a subminimum wage.

● Since 2009, tipped restaurant workers have grown in importance as a percentage of total employed workers in $2.13 states, states where tipped worker wages are higher than $5.00, and states without subminimum wage—but growth of tipped restaurant workers as a percentage of total employment is highest in states without subminimum wage.

Find FACT SHEET: The Impact of Raising the Subminimum Wage on Restaurant Sales and Employment below or download here.

Find the press release here.

Find our full report, “Recipe For Success: Raising the Subminimum Wage Strengthens the Restaurant Industry” here.

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High Road 2.0: A National Study of Human Resource Practices, Turnover, and Customer Service in the Restaurant Industry

This study represents the first national employer survey of work and human resource management in the US Restaurant Industry. It documents the range of practices adopted by employers and how those practices affect turnover and employment stability—problems that are endemic across the industry.

We examined management practices and outcomes in four customer segments: fine upscale dining, casual fine dining,moderately priced family restaurants, and fast food/quick service (fast food) restaurants.

High levels of employee turnover are problematic in restaurants serving all four customer segments—leading to higher employee costs and lower service quality and organizational performance. In fact, our survey data demonstrates that better human resource practices can reduce employee turnover almost by half. 

Download the full report here.

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The Third Shift: Child Care Needs and Access for Working Mothers in Restaurants

The restaurant industry is one of the largest sectors in the United States economy and is projected to be among those with the largest growth by 2020. It currently employs over 10 million workers. Between 2000 and 2010, our economy as a whole shed jobs at a rate of -0.2 percent. However, food services and drinking places are projected to create over 860,000 new jobs between 2010 and 2020. Despite the industry’s growth and potential for lifting the livelihoods of its workers, especially for women and mothers, working conditions have deteriorated and wages have not kept pace with growth.

Please find the full report below.

The Third Shift: Child Care Needs and Access for Working Mothers in Restaurants

Download full report here.

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Realizing The Dream: How the Minimum Wage Impacts Racial Equity in the Restaurant Industry and In America

2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. One of the demands of that march was for a minimum wage high enough to secure a healthy and vibrant nation of workers who could provide for their families and participate in the nation’s prosperity. Despite this historic effort, income inequality retards many of the gains of the civil rights movement.

The federal minimum wage for all workers has stagnated at $7.25 per hour, and the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers has remained frozen at $2.13 per hour for over two decades. As a result, millions of Americans find themselves struggling in poverty even while working a full-time job. Though many work 40 hours or more each week, their wages are low enough that they must rely on food stamps and other public benefits to sustain themselves and their families. The minimum wage, at its current level, economically excludes and marginalizes millions of people who could instead be generators of growth throughout the economy. This burden falls disproportionately on people of color, since they represent 42% of minimum wage earners yet only make up 32% of the total workforce.

The restaurant industry is one of the largest and fastest growing sectors of the United States economy, employing over 10 million workers. The industry is the largest employer of people of color, and the second largest employer of immigrants. Unfortunately, the restaurant industry is the largest low-wage employer, accounting for 39% of all workers earning at or below the minimum wage. Workers of color and immigrants are disproportionately concentrated in the industry’s lowest paying positions. Forty percent of all tipped workers are people of color, and over 23% of all tipped workers are immigrants, a disproportionate number compared to the 16% of immigrants in the total workforce. Overall, 58% of workers with incomes below the poverty line, and over 50% of tipped workers and restaurant workers with incomes below the poverty line are people of color. 

Nearly six million workers would be lifted out of poverty if the minimum wage were raised to $10.10 as has been proposed in Congress, of which 60%, or over three and a half million would be people of color. Over 500,000 of these would be restaurant workers, and nearly 300,000 of these would be workers of color. Nearly 50% of tipped workers lifted out of poverty would be workers of color. Examining all tipped workers and their families, over 400,000 individuals of color would be lifted out of poverty, and 150,000 of these would be children. Among restaurant workers and their families, over 700,000 people of color would be lifted out of poverty, and over 250,000 would be children.

On all counts, an increase to the minimum and tipped minimum wage is a sensible solution. It would raise millions out of poverty, including hundreds of thousands of children and their families; it would especially help African Americans and Latinos (populations that played a pivotal role in the 2012 elections), and lift up communities that have been marginalized and denied the opportunity to escape poverty. Similarly, any effort to block certain groups, such as tipped workers, from receiving the benefits of an increase to the  tipped minimum wage would mean hundreds of thousands of children and their families would continue to suffer a dream denied.

Download the full report here.

This report was released on June 19th, 2013 by ROC United along with the Applied Research Center (ARC), Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), Center for New Community (CNC), Color of Change, The Greenlining Institute, Jobs With Justice (JWJ), National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Praxis Project, and the United Workers Congress released a report studying the impacts of the full and tipped minimum wage on communities of color.

A May Day Special VisionTalk: ROC’s Saru Jayaraman on Building a Movement

Yesterday, Center for Media Justice released the latest installment of VisionTalk featuring ROC United co-director and co-founder Saru Jayaraman.

In honor of May Day, she discusses what it takes to build a movement for restaurant workers. VisionTalk is a multi-media series designed to spark a dialog about social movement culture, strategy, and vision.

More on VisionTalk and Center for Media Justice here.

Alternative Restaurant Association, RAISE, Announced Today!

Today, we’re excited to announce the formation of RAISE (Restaurants Advancing Industry Standards in Employment), an alternative restaurant association of nearly 100 business owners across the country aimed at supporting business owners and employers—and the workers they employ. The announcement comes the same week as the National Restaurant Association, employing lobbyists representing some of the country’s largest chain restaurant corporations, is scheduled to come to the Hill for their annual “lobby day.”

“For too long Congress has heard only from the National Restaurant Association—the other NRA—which represents corporate lobbyists in the restaurant industry,” said Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of ROC United. “RAISE represents the voices of small sustainable restaurant owners who make long term profits by providing livable wages and benefits to their employees.”

RAISE aims to support small and medium-sized business owners as they move towards the “High Road” to profitability by raising the standards by which we do business. “High Road” practices include:

· Livable wages, tipped and non-tipped

· Paid sick days

· Access to affordable health care

· Safe and healthy workplace

· Diverse and equitable employment

· Career advancement opportunities

· Responsible immigration reform

· Environmental sustainability

Rep. George Miller (D-CA), sponsor of the recently introduced Fair Minimum Wage Act, and WAGES Act sponsor Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-MD) joined Jayaraman and several member employers to discuss the need to increase the minimum wage for all restaurant employees, including those who work for tips, and to raise standards in the restaurant industry by supporting sustainable and fair practices. Among the restaurant owners present were Andy Shallal, owner of DC’S Busboys & Poets and Eatonville Restaurants, Teresa Ging, owner of Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique in Chicago, IL and Natan Zion, Owner, The Gorbals Restaurant in Los Angeles, CA.

Rep. Miller’s Fair Minimum Wage Act would reconnect the regular and tipped minimum wage while raising both, stabilizing the restaurant industry just as it is project to grow by 10.6% over the next ten years. Raising the tipped minimum wage will help lift many restaurant workers out of poverty and provide a path to the middle class for millions of Americans.

Learn more about RAISE and its members here.

Download our 2013 Diner’s Guide app here.

Support the Fair Minimum Wage Act & paid sick days for restaurant workers.

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