Local small business owners say the minimum wage increase will cost them thousands

    Local small business owners say the minimum wage increase will cost them thousands

    YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. - Minimum wage for workers in Washington continues to climb now at $12 an hour and not stopping there.

    Small businesses here in Yakima County say big companies will be able to absorb the costs, but the little guys are the ones that suffer.

    Lori Blanchard owns local pet sitting service Cozy Critters. She's been in business for 20 years now and said she does not think it's fair to raise prices for customers, so she will take on more work.

    "We're going to take the hit," Blanchard said. "Probably try to take on more pet sitting so we can compensate for the loss."

    Blanchard said she already noticed minimum wage affecting costs and is considering adding other pet services to make up for that loss.

    Local Baskin-Robbins owner Dawn Charboneau said she doesn't want to raise prices for customers either, fearing it will drive them away. She also doesn't want to cut down on employees because they keep her stores running, but the money will have to come from somewhere.

    "You got to realize the minimum wage goes up everything goes up," Charboneau said. "My cost of ice cream goes up, paper goods goes up because people are making those so they are getting paid more, so the cost goes up for that."

    She said she has about 10 employees working in the winter and 20 in the summer. Now let's say these employees work part-time at about 20 hours a week, with this year's 50 cent increase, that's an extra $10 per employee per week. If you do the math, that’s costing almost an extra $8,000 a year. Looking at 2020 with a $1.50 increase, jumping an extra $30 per employee per week, that is going to cost this small business over $23,000 more to pay employees.

    With these rising wages Charboneau said she is looking to hire more reliable workers that will be worth the higher wage.

    "People need to actually work like they used to," she said. "Work hard for your money and show that you appreciate your job and then you'll get appreciated, you'll get your raise."

    Some economists argue that the minimum wage increase will allow employees to have more money to spend on things like ice cream and pet care.

    Blanchard said she likes to see employees be rewarded for their work but thinks everything else is going to go up with minimum wage, which won't help anyone financially.

    "People think it's going to actually help them make more money but it's just going to trickle down and the cost of everything else is going to go up," she said. "Nothing is going to change."

    Both business owner said they are scared to see how next year's increase will effect them when the minimum wage jumps another $1.50.

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