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EXCLUSIVE: Tom Perez Brushes Off Job Losses Over D.C. Min. Wage

Pressed by a reporter on the 1,400 restaurant jobs lost in D.C. following a minimum wage hike, Labor Secretary Tom Perez brushed off the losses and claimed the industry is “going gangbusters.”

Perez on the minimum wage

In exclusive video obtained by NTK Network, Labor Secretary Tom Perez is seen brushing off a reporter’s question about job losses in Washington, D.C., after a minimum wage hike.

Perez was in Denver to push for a minimum wage hike in Colorado. The reporter asked Perez about D.C.’s “staged increase” in the minimum wage, noting that D.C.’s restaurant industry lost 1,400 jobs in the first half of 2016, what the Daily Caller called a “historic drop.”

Perez both brushed off the job losses – “restaurants closed before minimum wages increased” – and also denied the restaurant industry is hurting, claiming “restaurant growth in [the D.C.] area … is going gangbusters.”

See the video above, and a rough transcript below:

REPORTER: “So I don’t know if you have seen the data out of Washington, D.C., where they have done this, raised the minimum wage and it’s a staged increase, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has some data that some of the groups are out of St. Louis – seasonally adjusted and it looked at 1,400 jobs have been lost in the first 6 months of this year, which is the most in decades in the D.C. area.”

SEC. PEREZ: “1,400 jobs in a…?”

REPORTER: “In the restaurant industry. In the restaurant industry in particular.”

SEC. PEREZ: “Well actually, I’d love to give you the data on the State of Washington, because the State of – Seattle raised their minimum wage to $15 an hour and who was there the day it went into effect? It was the Seattle Restaurant Association there in support. I can give you the data on restaurant growth in Seattle, which is moving up to $15 an hour and guess what. You don’t have to bring a bagged lunch when you fly into Seattle because the restaurant industry continues to thrive, because as the head of the Seattle Restaurant Association said that day, ‘good businesses know how to adjust. Change is a constant in our industry and what you do is create that level playing field we adjust, and when we have higher wages we have more customers.’ And as someone who lives in D.C., I look at the restaurant growth in our area and it is going gangbusters. Restaurants closed before minimum wage is increased, restaurants close and open after minimum wage increases, and they close and open for a number of reasons. There have been study after study done around the country, when you have reasonable increases, like we have in Colorado, people can adjust. And when restaurants have 100 percent of the money that the four workers here are going to get from this minimum wage increase, they’re not going to be investing in an offshore account, they’re going to go to restaurants, they are going to Little Caesar’s. That’s what one of the people said. I’d like to go to dinner there.”