The Seattle Restaurant Crisis

You may not have heard of the Seattle Restaurant Crisis, unless you are a regular consumer of rightie media. In which case you would know that restaurants in Seattle are going the way of video stores, or dinosaurs, or something, because the minimum wage was raised to $15 an hour.

Except that isn’t happening. The Sky Valley Chronicle reported,

The blogosphere has once again proved itself to a be fertile source of false news that projects outward as fact at the speed of light.

A March 17th report by the Seattle Times says it found a blogosphere-spread rumor masquerading as fact that recent Seattle restaurant closures may have been linked to the city’s new $15 minimum wage, was false.

The report says an article that made its way into Seattle Magazine (called “Why Are So Many Seattle Restaurants Closing Lately?”) suggested that the city’s newly approved $15-an-hour minimum wage (to be phased in over years) was a factor in some recent Seattle restaurant closures.

That article then caught on fire and was touted as factual in the conservative blogosphere, with the Washington Policy Center (which calls itself a “think tank”) asserting that “Seattle’s $15 wage law a factor in restaurant closings.”

From there the not-real-news flashed over into a veritable forest fire of condemnation in the conservative media with the conservative American Enterprise Institute claiming that,“Seattle’s new minimum wage law takes effect April 1 but is already leading to restaurant closings and job losses.”

That was followed by elderly conservative radio talker Rush Limbaugh, not exactly known in most journalistic circles for being a hotbed of factual, non-biased material jumping on the bandwagon followed by the New York Post running an article called called “Jobless in Seattle.”

Then Forbes chimed right in with,“We Are Seeing The Effects Of Seattle’s $15 An Hour Minimum Wage.”

To Forbes’s credit, it also published a story by Rick Ungar that pooh-poohed the whole thing.

But that was last month. This month Think Progress followed up and confirmed that (a) Seattle restaurants are opening and closing and the same rate they opened and closed for years; and (b) those that closed did not cite the minimum wage hike as a factor.

High-profile writers confidently proclaimed that Seattle’s once-proud restaurant scene was in retreat and that the wage hike was already chilling business activity and killing jobs, based on one anecdotal report. None of that was true. When the Seattle Times asked them about the story, the restaurant owners in questionlaughed off the claim that their decisions were motivated by the wage law. But even that direct testimony didn’t stop the media wave all the way. The conservative National Federation of Independent Business ran a post parroting the disproven restaurant closures claim days after the Times debunked the anecdote underlying the narrative.

Now, there’s even harder evidence that the right was wrong. The Big Picture pulled the numbers on how many restaurant permits have been issued by the city each month going back to the start of 2012. The chart shows plenty of ups and downs – what data scientists call “noise” – but the 12-month average for permits is almost perfectly steady…

A couple of restaurants had added a 2 percent “Seattle Ordinance Wage Equity Surcharge,” but canceled this when customers objected.

However, the facts hardly matter, and you can be sure that the wingnuts will continue to tell themselves that every restaurant in Seattle has closed or is about to, and ha ha those stupid libtards are stupid.  You know the tune, I’m sure.

4 thoughts on “The Seattle Restaurant Crisis

  1. “To Forbes’s credit, it also published a story by Rick Ungar that pooh-poohed the whole thing”

    Wow thats a low bar? Is that like yelling “FIRE” and then “NOT REALLY”?

  2. Let’s see what the longer term results will be.
    I expect fast-food and low-cost local restaurants to do much better, because the more money that minimum-wage workers get, the more they’re going to spend on low-cost meals for them and their families.

    Of course, on $15 an hour, they can have their chauffeurs and maids shop and buy lobster and filet mignon’s for their cooks to prepare for them.
    So, maybe more 3-star Michelin restaurants should open to cater to their desires, now that, at $15 an hour, they’ve achieved their ‘champagne wishes and caviar dreams!”

    How out of touch can these people be – particularly, the ones trying to survive on several jobs under the current minimum wage rules.

    The capacity for people to do harm to themselves because of perceived religious, class, ethnic, sexual, sexual orientation, etc., differences, truly amazes me!!!

  3. Casting about for places to retire, the two cities in the US that are attractie are Portland and Seattle. Ironically, for right wingers, one of the salient features of those cities is that even as an old codger, I feel totally welcomed by the young men and women. One night in Seattle, my wife and I went for a walk. We momentarily paused to decide where we should go. There was a group of young people gathered on the street. One young woman came up to us, and recognizing us as tourists, asked us politely if we needed help with our directions. These “liberal dystopias” seem to be the main repositories of good old fashioned decency and social grace. In Portland, we stopped to drink at a public park and we had a great conversation with a homeless man doing his laundry in a public water source. This is of course a horror to the purist Libertarians.

    I’ve found that the people in these two cities are generally very knowledgeable. articulate and gracious. I would think $15 an hour would be a bargain.

  4. The crazy thing is if the righties really believed in the efficiency of the market (which they don’t, it’s just an excuse) then they would know those that cannot survive paying $15/hr will be replaced by higher performing businesses who can.

    What a bunch of disgusting phonies they are…phooey!

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