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Gov. Newsom’s ‘Mischaracterized’ Fast Food Job Statistics – Good Enough for Government Work?

‘The real story is the story of the losses for business owners, business operators and employee job loss’

By Katy Grimes, June 28, 2024 11:05 am

Earlier in June, the Globe reported that California has lost just under 10,000 fast food jobs since the new $20 minimum wage for fast food employees was first signed into law late last year, according to the California Business and Industrial Alliance (CABIA).

CABIA cited data and a report from the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

This article apparently displeased the Governor’s office. We received an email from Brandon Richards (He/Him), Deputy Director of Communications in the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, asking for a retraction or correction and claiming the state has gained jobs since the $20 per hour fast food minimum wage.

Brandon claimed:

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California has added jobs in limited service restaurants (fast food) both since Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 1228 the FAST Recovery Act in September 2023 and since the law’s new $20 minimum wage for fast food workers took effect April 1, 2024.

The data the trade group uses cherry picks from Aug/Sept 2023 to Jan 2024 (an incomplete and inaccurate use of the data) – leaving out the data from the months of February, March, and April – which all saw increases.”

Brandon has not let up; he continues to email us, as well as several other media outlets who also reported on the job losses.

Thursday, Brandon wagged his pointy finger at the Globe, and posted the same message on X/Twitter to the Globe, Redstate, Post Millennial, The Federalist, Rupert Murdoch, among others:

@CaliforniaGlobe, will your outlet continue to carry water for a debunked corporate trade group looking to pad their profits rather than report on the data showing the law has increased jobs & improved the lives of every day, hard-working Californians?

Before we could address this hot mess of inconsistencies, the California Policy Center’s President Will Swaim challenged Gov. Newsom’s/Brandon’s tweets:

Just one problem here, Gavin: The @latimes got its data mixed up. You sent reporter Michael Hiltzik data from 2023 to show that fast-food employment is up. The wage hike took place Apr 1 2024. That’s not even math. That’s just being able to read a calendar. @GovPressOffice

Swaim followed it up with this, accurately addressing who is actually doing the water carrying:

The @latimes‘ Michael Hiltzik is among the worst reporters in California, and proves it again here: Cites data from last year to prove that fast-food employment is up this year, despite @GavinNewsom‘s wage hike. His numbers aren’t fake, just wrong year. Could happen to anyone with the name “Michael Hiltzik.” @GovPressOffice

Lance Christensen, Vice President of the California Policy Center and Swaim’s colleague, replied with this:

“Will, stop badgering Newsom on mischaracterized stats. What he produced is good enough for government work. Plus, no one reads the LA Times anymore.”

The Globe spoke with Rebekah Paxton Friday morning about the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, for clarification.

“Yesterday, they put out a press release claiming that California’s fast food industry has added every month this year,” Paxton said. “The reality is that California lost over 2,500 fast food jobs since January 2024, when looking at seasonally adjusted data. Seasonally adjusted data is the most accurate, best available real time data, as it accounts for normal variations such as summer and December seasonal hiring spikes.”

Paxton, who holds advanced degrees from Boston University in Economics and Political Science, is the research director at the Employment Policies Institute. She had this to say about Newsom’s misleading statement:

“Newsom is stretching the truth to obscure the obvious: His fast food minimum wage hike has been a disaster. Thousands of workers have lost their jobs, hours are being slashed, and restaurants are closing at an alarming pace. The public isn’t fooled by Newsom’s statistical spin.”

She provided a chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which details the information:
Month Number of Jobs Change in Jobs
Jan 2024 742,326 1,050
Feb 2024 741,822 -503
Mar 2024 739,792 -2,031
Apr 2024 739,850 59
May 2024 739,804 -46

When using January 2024 instead of January 2023, there is indeed a loss of over 2,500 jobs in just that 5 month period.

Paxton told the Globe that the real job losses began the day the Legislature passed the $20 minimum wage hike bill. That would explain why the Hoover Institution compiled the 10,000 fast food job losses.

Paxton said Gov. Newsom needs to decide which data set he uses. “He just needs to pick one and stick with it.”

She also said when looking at the annual growth rate every May, this is the lowest since the Great Recession, and would have been the lowest going back to 2010 if not for Covid.

“The real story is the story of the losses for business owners, business operators and employee job loss,” Paxton said. “Governor Newsom doesn’t seem to be expressing any concern about the owners or employees.”

She is correct. Gov. Newsom and his staff including Brandon, are picking numbers and months to serve Newsom’s own false narrative.

Paxton said the non-seasonal data and seasonally adjusted data are the same data set – the same numbers. “The BLS publishes the job reports and then comes back with normal seasonal trends and seasonal hiring to get at the real changes impacted by the cycles.”

Even worse she said, is drowning out the real concerns of business owners and employees.

“California is the blueprint for things like this,” Paxton said. “We are already seeing other states looking at the higher minimum wage,” which would be a disaster.

This is why we are seeing messages like this on social media: “Don’t Californicate the rest of the country,” and “Don’t Gavin Newsom America.”

Will Swaim followed up with this:

Sources @LATimes say reporter now apparently drafting an “update” (“not a correction”) to show that seasonally adjusted Federal Reserve numbers show 2,500 job losses in fast food since @GavinNewsom‘s wage-hike law took effect Apr 1.

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