Package  Included in Iraq Spending Bill

(Washington, DC) – The National Restaurant Association, representing an industry that is one of the nation’s largest private-sector employers with 12.8 million workers and 935,000 restaurant-and-foodservice locations, today expressed disappointment that Congress has tied the federal minimum wage increase and tax package to the controversial Iraq spending bill.

“The minimum wage/tax package is entirely out of place in the debate concerning funding the war in Iraq. A minimum wage increase will cost our industry jobs, and the vital discussion of how to minimize this job loss is getting lost in the debate. We’re disappointed that the current $4.9 billion tax package does not include more targeted tax relief for those employers most impacted, including restaurants,” said Peter Kilgore, Association acting interim president and chief executive officer.

“Restaurants are found in every city across the country and serve as the cornerstone of our economy, rewarding career opportunities and community involvement. Seventy percent of the nation’s restaurants are small businesses,” said Kilgore.

“Nearly half of all adults have worked in the restaurant industry at some point during their lives, and 32 percent of adults got their first job experience in a restaurant. For many, restaurant jobs lead to management and ownership opportunities: 8 out of 10 salaried employees have started as hourly employees. The impact of the proposed minimum wage increase is expected to be significant, affecting restaurant employers, employees and the millions of customers they serve,” said Kilgore.

“After the last federal wage hike in 1996, Association research revealed that the restaurant industry lost more than 146,000 jobs and operators postponed plans to hire an additional 106,000 employees. An effective tax package is essential so that small businesses have the necessary resources to offset the consequences of an increase in the minimum wage,” said Kilgore.

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