'Death by a thousand cuts': Government-mandated wage, benefits hurting small businesses


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Business owners say the government-mandated minimum wage of $15 an hour is hurting New York City businesses, including popular eateries with years of history like Gabriela's Restaurant and Tequila Bar.

Gabriela's, which opened 25 years ago according to The New York Post, invited customers to eat and drink for the restaurant's final weekend before closing at the end of September. Owners Liz and Nat Milner told The New York Post that the minimum wage hike basically killed their business.

They're not the only ones making difficult decisions. The New York City Hospitality Alliance surveyed 324 full-service restaurants at the end of 2018 and found that 75% of respondents will cut hours for employees and 47% will cut jobs in 2019 because of the minimum wage hike that went into effect on Dec. 31, 2018. The wage hike affected employees at corporations like McDonald's and small businesses alike.
"It's death by a thousand cuts," the alliance's executive director Andrew Rigie said. "The minimum wage increases put pressure on small businesses. They are well-intended but unsustainable. There's only so many times you can increase the price of a burger and a bowl of pasta."

That's what Gabriela's experienced. The Milners said they had to lay off cleaners, middle managers, their general manager and extra servers.

"I'm not against people making more money," Nat Milner told The New York Post. "These people have worked for me for 20 years. But taxes, groceries, everything is going up and people have a little less money to spend on guacamole and tequila."

Other small business owners are feeling the pinch, too. Wage hikes have led to less hours and education seminars for Philippe Massoud's staff at Lebanese restaurants Ilili and Ilili Box, the CEO and executive chef said.

"I can't even train or educate my staff the way I want to anymore," Massoud told The New York Post.

The Post editorial board cited the plight of Gabriela's owners in an op-ed slamming the $15-an-hour minimum wage hike on Monday night.

"Just as predicted, the $15 minimum wage is killing vulnerable city small businesses, with the low-margin restaurant industry one of the hardest-hit as it also faces a separate mandatory wage hike for tipped staffers," the board wrote.

"All this is fine with the union organizers behind the 'fight for $15' and the elimination of the tipped-wages system: They don't care about any job, or any business, that doesn’t play ball with organized labor. Mom-and-pop shops can go to hell," the board added. "Plainly, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature, who are passing the laws the unions want, don’t care much, either."

Tall Timbers

Imperfect but forgiven
The US Government should not be in the wage setting business. If individual states want to, they should be able to but then businesses and people have the liberty of moving to another state. I don't think municipalities should have that kind of authority either. IMO the best minimum wage would be no minimum wage.


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If you run a business and you can’t pay the staff what the govt says is the minimum to be able to self sustain a person, then you ain’t got a viable business.

If you work for a wage, the minimum it should cover is housing, fuel, food and health. If you have a full time job, working 40 hours a week (the average in Europe) and cannot afford all four basics, then someone, somewhere is not running either the business or the country properly.


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The Federal poverty level for family of 4 is $25,750. Which is $12.37 per hour. Government costs more and more so has to raise the minimum wage to minimize assistance. But I have never heard where the government mandated minimum wage helps. What happens is lots of people lose their jobs.