Behind the Kitchen Door: Inequality & Opportunity in Washington, DC’s Thriving Restaurant Industry

In 2011 ROC-DC released Behind the Kitchen Door: Inequality & Opportunity in Washington, DC’s Thriving Restaurant Industry, the most comprehensive study of the Washington, DC restaurant industry ever conducted. The research included 510 surveys of restaurant workers, 30 worker interviews, 30 employer interviews, and government data analysis.  The findings illustrated the great need for reform that can achieve a sustainable industry in which workers, employers, and diners prosper together.

Findings

  •  Restaurant workers in Washington, D.C. on average made only $22,818, compared to $70,987 for the total private sector.  However, some livable wage jobs are available.  Our research shows that 13.7% of restaurant workers in the area make a livable wage.
  • 89.4% of workers in Washington, D.C. do not have health insurance through their employers, and 47.9% have no insurance at all.
  • More than one third (35.4%) of all workers have worked off the clock without pay.
  • While racial and gender discrimination is prevalent throughout the restaurant industry nation-wide, geographic discrimination is also an issue in Washington, D.C.  Restaurant workers in the poorest areas of the city- Wards 7 and 8- disproportionately work in low-wage quick-serve positions.
  • The conditions in the restaurant industry in Washington, D.C. have an impact on the consumer.  59% of workers surveyed reported that they have prepared, cooked, or served food while sick, increasing the likelihood that their illness will be passed on to consumers.
Download the full report here


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