Average grocery, restaurant worker pay hits $15 an hour for first time

People dine outside as a waiter takes their order at a restaurant in California
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Average pay for restaurant and grocery workers rose above $15 an hour for the first time, according to Labor Department data reviewed by The Washington Post.

The Labor Department reported that in June, the most recent month where data is available, nonmanagerial restaurant workers earned an average of $15.31 an hour, which is a more than 10 percent increase from the $13.86 hourly wage workers were taking home before the pandemic, the Post noted. 

Grocery store workers took home on average $15.04 an hour in June, which was up 7 percent from when the pandemic began.

Workers in seafood markets, office supply stores, liquor stores, day care services and janitorial services also saw hourly wages surpass the $15 benchmark, according to the Post, in addition to parking lot attendants and individuals who care for the elderly or disabled.

Overall, almost 80 percent of all workers in the U.S. now take home paychecks that offer at least $15 an hour, according to the Post. In 2014, that number sat at just 60 percent.

The U.S. added 943,000 jobs in July, causing the unemployment rate to drop 0.4 percentage points to 5.4 percent. The increase in jobs came amid a summer rush of travel and recreation spending, as severe COVID-19 restrictions eased.

Democrats on Capitol Hill tried to pass a federal minimum wage increase as part of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill in February, but the Senate Parliamentarian ruled that the boost is not in line with budget rules.


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