With $15 minimum wage hikes on the horizon for many areas across the country, small businesses are prepping for the worst.
Brace yourselves, business owners: The minimum wage continues to rise.
California and New York are just the latest areas to raise their minimum wage to $15 an hour, according to NPR. And that’s just statewide—many cities have already seen, or soon will see, their own hikes, including Seattle; Missoula, Mont.; Pittsburgh; San Marcos, Texas; and Washington, D.C.
The statewide wage hikes will be phased in in small increments yearly, eventually reaching $15 by 2021 in New York and 2022 in California. Owners will either have to raise their prices or cut positions to compensate for the new wage, according to NPR.
“It’s going to be hard, you know?” Kurt Samuels, a small business owner in New York, told NPR. Presently, he has one part-time employee making the current minimum wage. “Maybe her hours [are] most likely going to be cut, you know, ’cause [at] the end of the day, [you] got to pay the rent, pay the bills, the gas, light, [and] insurance.”
At the local level, an Express Employment Professionals analysis paints a dark picture of a future with a $15 minimum wage. Here are five takeaways from that report, according to Cleveland.com:
- A higher minimum wage could increase youth unemployment
- Higher minimum wages are likely to speed up automation
- Higher minimum wages are likely to increase prices
- Businessmen predict a mixed impact
- Public opinion on the issue is divided
Linda Barrington, executive director of the Institute of Compensation Studies at Cornell University, told NPR it’s hard to predict how a state level $15 minimum wage in New York and California will affect those two states’ economies. Past studies and economists have not analyzed increases that are this big, affect this many people, or both. However, she does have a suggestion.
“We should keep an eye on how these wage hikes will affect prices,” she said. “The more that businesses can pass it along to consumers, the less it’s going to negatively affect employment.”