Ahead of the President’s State of the Union address this evening, National Restaurant Association president and CEO Dawn Sweeney called on policy leaders to focus on proposals that will help create jobs and strengthen the economy.
“Tonight, President Obama is expected to address the idea of creating ‘ladders of opportunity’ to the middle class,” Sweeney says. “Supporting and strengthening the workers and small business owners who struggle to get ahead and do better is a priority for all Americans.
“There are no stronger ‘ladders of opportunity’ in today’s economy than in the restaurant industry. Our essential industry continues to be an industry of opportunity, and today provides jobs and careers to more than 13 million people. Restaurants are critical employers that literally train America's workforce. One in three Americans today started their career in the restaurant industry, where they learned vital skills that have served them for a lifetime. Yet the industry is not just a pathway to other careers. Many of our jobs are managers, crew supervisors, and chefs in restaurants, salaried positions that offer competitive pay and benefits, and are firmly middle-class jobs that support families. Nine in 10 salaried employees started as entry-level employees.
“Providing individuals with a path to upward mobility is a critical national issue with long-term economic implications. However, dramatic increases in the minimum wage are not the silver bullet that national labor unions and others are portraying them to be. Such a drastic increase in the minimum wage would limit opportunities for teens, low-skilled, and entry-level workers where unemployment rates are the highest. Strong majorities of Americans believe that education and job training are much more effective strategies to provide real opportunity to upward mobility.
“Instead of focusing on shortsighted and ineffective approaches primed for election year politics, let's spend our time and energy on pro-growth proposals that will help create jobs and put more money back into the economy. As we have demonstrated in other major policy matters such as immigration reform and health care reform, the restaurant industry welcomes this discussion—in part because we are a significant piece of the fabric of this nation and we provide nearly 10 percent of the nation’s jobs. The livelihood of so many of our employees, managers and business owners would be impacted by the outcome.”