DC’s Initiative 82 Has Slashed Restaurant Jobs No Matter How You Slice It

Anti-tipping activists have used Washington, D.C. as the cornerstone of their anti-tip credit agenda in other states and cities across the country. These activists have used questionable data and ignored the facts that indicate Initiative 82 has wreaked havoc on restaurants and their employees in the District.

This May, D.C. experienced a full year under Initiative 82. The best federal data available shows D.C.’s full-service restaurant employment has plummeted as a direct response to the implementation of Initiative 82, even after accounting for normal seasonal variation.

  • Full-service restaurants dropped 1,822 jobs since May 2023 (6% of total May employment). (Figure 1)
  • Full-service restaurant employment growth rates have stagnated: while averaging 1.3% increases in monthly employment the year before, since May 1 average monthly employment growth is negative (-0.5%). (Figure 2)

D.C. restaurants have experienced two wage hikes in the past year: up to $6 per hour on May 1, 2023 and up to $8 per hour on July 1, 2023. Restaurants are facing a third increase up to $10 per hour this coming July 1 – an 87% total increase since before May 2023.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, All Employees: Leisure and Hospitality: Full-Service Restaurants in District of Columbia [SMU11000007072251101SA], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/SMU11000007072251101SA, June 11, 2024. This data is the most up-to-date, accurate estimate of employment changes, and is adjusted to minimize the effects of normal seasonal variation to better identify trends due to other policy and cyclical factors.