Raising Wages to Reopen

Restaurants Nationwide Raising Wages to Save Their Businesses After Covid-19

The COVID-19 pandemic caused massive upheaval in the US restaurant industry. 

After generations of restaurant owners paying tipped workers a subminimum wage — a legacy of slavery that is still $2.13 an hour at the federal level — restaurant workers are refusing to work for anything less than a full, livable wage with tips on top. Their refusal has resulted in thousands of restaurants raising their wages nationwide. 

In total, in just a 2 week period, we have documented over 1,600 restaurants that have raised wages to pay the full minimum wage with tips on top, with an average wage of about $13.50 — across 41 states in which the vast majority of restaurants were paying a subminimum wage of $5 or less earlier this year.

This brief provides only an initial snapshot of the diversity and breadth of wage increases in restaurants happening across the country.


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