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Local businesses need to find new ways to cut costs with minimum wage going up

Local businesses need to find new ways to cut costs with minimum wage going up.

YAKIMA, Wash.- The year is almost over and the bank accounts of minimum wage workers all over the state of Washington are ready for minimum wage to go up 50 cents in 2018.

However, the businesses who pay them are going to have to find a way to make up for the added cost.

“We're struggling,” Sandra Eckerman said. “We're struggling to keep our head above water.”

Eckerman is the owner of Lariat Bar-B-Q in Yakima and says she started working on the line after they went from six to four employees in 2017.

She said they must keep the number of employees to a lower amount to make sure everyone has enough hours of works.

With the wage going up, she said she also has to increase the price of her food to balance the books.

Which has made 2017 a slower business year than usual.

“With our price increase, they don't want to pay that much,” Eckerman said. “There's many places they can go to get less, but all we strive for here is quality food.”

Jonathan Smith is the executive director of the Yakima Valley Development Association and said he has worked with local owners to get them ready for the wage increase.

He said some may be struggling to pay their people, but there are more in the work force than ever.

“Right now, we are seeing the minimum wage increase, but unemployment is at an all-time low and you would think those two things would contradict each other,” Smith said.

While those at minimum wage may get a boost, Smith said those who have worked years to get above it may be affected as well.

“Well now if you bring minimum wage back up equal again,” he said. “The mindset for them is they are back at the bottom of minimum wage again.”

With businesses such as Lariat Bar-B-Q forced to pay its employees more, Ackerman said there is only one alternative to not raising their prices.

“Close. Just that simple,” she said. “We would be closed.”

In addition to minimum wage going up, there will also be mandated sick time for all employees.

Smith said with so much being added to their expenses, owners would've had to prepare months in advance for 2018.

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