The Occupy Wall Street protests might be making things worse. A local Manhattan news outlet reports:

Twenty-one restaurant workers lost their jobs last week because of the Occupy Wall Street protests, the cafe owner said Tuesday.

Marc Epstein, owner of the Milk Street Cafe at 40 Wall St., said he had no choice but to let nearly a quarter of his staff go last Friday after he saw his sales drop by 30 percent in the six weeks since the protests started.

"What are [the protesters] trying to accomplish here?" Epstein asked Monday.

"The end result is that I and all the wonderful people who work for me are collateral damage."

Are the protesters boosting the local economy in other ways in Manhattan's financial district? Perhaps. Police are getting paid overtime (from an already stretched city budget), maybe protesters are frequenting some local venues more than others (the nearby McDonald's is supposedly pretty popular, though I think the main feature there are the bathrooms for the protesters), and the encampment is seemingly turning into a tourist attraction. But the regulars--the ladies and gentlemen who work in the neighborhood--are bringing their lunches more frequently, avoiding the mayhem and foul smell outside, and therefore spending less at local joints.

It's ironic that a protest meant to highlight a bad economy would be the direct cause of employed folks getting fired.

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