Executive teams in the restaurant industry were anticipating policy implications that could bump up the federal minimum wage and a slew of other regulations that may affect their business. Darden Restaurants Inc., the owner of national chains such as Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse, was among them.
But industry leaders, as well as much of the rest of the country, weren’t necessarily expecting Donald Trump to become the next President elect.
National corporations, like Darden, with stores located in states that have already started bumping up their minimums are starting to prepare for labor costs from rising wages.
However, many others in the industry cheered the position of the new Republican administration on weakening federal labor regulations, including lifting health insurance requirements, that they say continue to put a damper on business.
The National Restaurant Association, the other NRA, made a note of the impact the election could have on the industry, stating that restaurants could see relief from “burdensome requirements,” like labor regulations. Even more specifically the organization commented, “looking at you, Overtime rule.”
They’re referring to the rule where four million salaried employees making $23,600 to $47,476 that will actually start getting paid more for putting in over than 40-hours a week starting on Dec. 1.
In any case, restaurant industry executives shouldn’t abandon prepping for wage increases and other supported regulations too quickly.
Analysts tracking the industry say that the new administration’s policy recommendations are vague in general, but Trump has offered flip-flopping opinions on wages in particular.
In a November debate last year Trump made a note to say that wages here “too high,” but a month later tweeted “no effective raise in years. BAD.”
Trump gave an official-(ish) stance on wages in July, calling for a $10-hourly federal minimum wage, only a slight decrease from Hillary Clinton’s proposed $12 an hour wage. However, the President-elect did backtrack a bit to say he’d most likely let states make the deal for wages.
Either way, several states like California and New York have already started working to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next four years. Others, like Arizona and Colorado, more recently moved forward with ballot measures to gradually raise local wages to $12 an hour.
If left up to states and localities wage increases are still pretty likely, so the restaurant industry shouldn’t count it out just yet.