A new Presidential administration brings change across the country, including restaurants. We've outlined 4 areas of potential impact facing the restaurants industry in the coming months:
MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE
Biden's COVID-19 recovery plan includes a federal increase of the minimum wage to $15 / hr nationwide, eliminating tipped wage rates.
The Wall Street Journal suggests that this change would cost an independent operator in West Virginia approximately $100,000 a year. This increase would be partially offset by stimulus options for small businesses; however, operators would still be on the hook for a substantial amount of the increase in operating costs.
The second round of stimulus came with another opportunity for small businesses to apply for forgivable PPP loans; however, it is for all small businesses and not for restaurants alone. The RESTAURANTS Act (Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed To Survive) is a proposed piece of legislature that would provide $120 Billion specifically for the hospitality industry.
This bill was passed in the House of Representatives, but was never voted on in the Senate in 2020. Now, with a shift in Senate leadership, there is renewed interest to see it brought to the floor.
The monthly unemployment benefits provided in the second relief package are about 1/2 of what was provided in the March 2020 CARES act. This change may alleviate some of the restaurant labor shortages sparked by unemployment being a better financial option to working while restaurants have no / limited indoor dining.
On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order pertaining to immigration. Now, undocumented immigrants in the country prior to January 1st, about 11 million people, will have a path to legal status and citizenship. The 8 year process will consist of 5 years of temporary status, paying taxes and passing background checks, followed by 3 years with a green card to become eligible for applying for citizenship. The National Restaurant Association has come out in support of this order as many current restaurant employees and their families will benefit and provides means to support the industry and the economy.
Some of these initiatives will begin immediately; others we may see over time. Either way, these administration changes should be at the forefront of your business decisions for your restaurant in the coming months.