You might remember that a few months ago, the Seattle zPizza location announced its looming closure and said the city’s $15 minimum wage law was to blame.
The story became national news, offered as a cautionary tale about the impact of higher wages. Never mind local unemployment is below 4%. Never mind that more than a dozen pizza joints were hiring that very week. Never mind that there are more restaurants licensed for business in Seattle than before the $15 law passed.
Now a new pizza place is set to move into the very same location that zPizza is leaving. And apparently there’s a shortage of pizza cooks in Seattle.
So now is the perfect time to look at what these news outlets said about zPizza… and how reality has turned out. Think they’ll follow up on their stories?
Q13 News said zPizza would leave workers unable to find jobs
A reporter for Q13, a local Fox affiliate, filed the first big report about zPizza. In this version of the story, the owner of the closing shop said that the wage law amounted to “discrimination” against her business, and that therefore she does “not want to stay and do anything in Seattle.” A pizza cook who worked there was cited as a victim of the wage law, quoted saying that “people like me are finding themselves in a tougher situation than ever.” And then the owner offered sympathy for the employees she was laying off instead of paying more money: “I absolutely am terrified for them. I have no idea where they’re going to find jobs, because if I’m cutting hours, I imagine everyone is across the board.”
Three months later, anyone can imagine what they want to, but Seattle is booming, restaurants are hiring, and there are still jobs in pizza. In fact, Craigslist regularly shows dozens of local pizza job listings, and Seattle Met reported this week that there’s actually a shortage of pizza cooks in Seattle.
Dori Monson of KIRO Radio said zPizza’s closure indicated the future of business in Seattle
Local right-wing talker Dori Monson trumpeted the fact that the pizza purveyor said she wouldn’t consider opening another business in Seattle. Anyone with an ounce of common sense, he declared, knew that higher wages would close businesses, and zPizza was just the first example. “The numbers just don’t make sense any more,” he said. “It violates the basic laws of economics…. Of course businesses are going to be hurt by this.”
“This minimum wage law makes me feel like the fight has been lost,” the owner agreed. She would never again invest in Seattle, she told Monson.
She may or may not choose to invest again, but plenty of other business owners are: there are more restaurants doing business in Seattle than before the minimum wage law passed. And the numbers are growing, week after week.
KUOW News said zPizza might be a sign of things to come
Local NPR affiliate KUOW also made an example of this one pizza shop, covering its situation sympathetically and even saying that “It is conceivable that more restaurant owners will follow in Burnham's footsteps.”
Anything is conceivable, but the opposite has happened. In fact, a new pizza joint is slated to open in the very location which zPizza is vacating — with zPizza barely having even closed its doors. The new place even offers employees healthcare.
Everything Q13, right-wing talk, and NPR said turned out to be wrong
When the Seattle zPizza blamed minimum wage for its closure, local and national media took the story and ran with it, desperate to gin up “evidence” that higher wages are destroying Seattle.
But reality wins out. Three months after the story broke out, every implication of the zPizza closure argued about in every mainstream news account has been proven wrong: a new pizza place is replacing the old one, in the same location. Restaurants are opening. And hiring at such a clip that there’s a shortage of pizza cooks.
Now: who thinks KUOW, Q13, and the other media outlets who got it so wrong are going to follow up on this? Give them a nudge: contact Q13 and KUOW on twitter and see if they'll follow up on what's happened since their initial zPizza scare stories.