Via Economic Policy Journal

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Keith S emails:

Subject: Occasional Cortex, the minimum wage and bartending

Dear Sir:

I completely agree with your response (AOC: The Dishonest Bartender Comes Home) to the story of the Congresswoman “bartending” in Queens.

 For the record I have worked as a bartender on and off in New York City for the past two decades and you are correct that the minimum wage for tipped employees is not the $2.13 per hour she stated in the article. IN fact it is now nearly 5 times that and stands at $10/hour. And if I am correct it is already written in the law that it WILL go to 15 in a year or so but I cannot remember the exact details.

As you so correctly state the tips I make far outweigh the wage to the point that occasionally I gross in tips in one shift what my wage brings me in hours for the whole week.

Cortex knows this. What I find interesting is that many years ago when the hourly wage for tipped employees was less than half what it is now, I typically found employment as a bartender for $10-12 per hour while waiters made the regulated minimum. This was due because mine was a skilled position and bars and restaurants would offer the higher wage to attract more experienced, skilled bartenders.

When the mandated wage increases and glut of people coming to the field (2007) made that less of a viable payment situation, the higher hourly wage became rare. With a touch of irony I am now back to making per hour what I made over a decade before.

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I have seen this from both sides having worked in management as well over the past two decades.  The mandated wage increases have already taken their toll. Restaurants are struggling with the 10/hour. Fifteen will kill them. The people in the industry all know this. In places like NYC where you have  a glut of high end restaurants that are either vanity pieces for a larger group/corporation (think loss leader in retail), run/owned by wealthy individuals with deep pockets, or have long lines of debt, the effect will be gradual. In the real world there will be closings.

Peace Be Upon You