Paid Sick Days and Restaurant Jobs: The Evidence from San Francisco

Restaurant Employment Strong When Employers Make the Shift to Paid Sick Days

In February 2007, San Francisco implemented the nation’s first paid sick days law, allowing all workers within the city to earn a minimum amount of paid sick leave. Restaurants are among the employers least likely to provide sick leave benefits, absent such a requirement.

Therefore, if minimum paid leave standards affect the number of jobs available, we would expect to see that impact most clearly in the food service industry. The data show that the job market in restaurants and bars has been stronger in San Francisco than in the state of California as a whole in every year since the sick days law passed:

  • Restaurant jobs in San Francisco grew by 4.6% in 2007, compared to just 2.8% statewide.
  • In 2008, San Francisco food service jobs grew by 2.5%, compared to 0.5% across the state.
  • In 2009, with severe recession lingering, restaurant jobs fell by 3.8% in the city, compared to 4.3% in the state.
  • The same pattern holds for all job categories –San Francisco’s job market has been stronger than the statewide average since adoption of minimum paid leave standards.
  • Compared to all job sectors,food service jobs grew more in 2007 and 2008, and shrank less in 2009.

In contrast, during the years following the ‘dot com’ bust and 2001 recession, San Francisco lost a greater percentage of jobs both in restaurants and overall than the state as a whole.

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