State minimum wage increase could cause small businesses to raise prices
YAKIMA, Wash. - As of January 1, minimum wage workers across Washington state began earning $12 an hour, up 50 cents from last year.
Yakima County Development Association Executive Director Jonathan Smith said this is a larger increase for Yakima County because compared to others in the state, people in Yakima make less money.
"The average wage here is lower than the average wage in Grant County or Benton County or Franklin County," Smith said. "So any increases to the wages here has a bigger impact."
Smith said overall the minimum wage is having positive and negative effects across the valley.
For workers, they take home more money.
"Workers have more dollars in their pockets to buy the same basket of goods," he said. "They can purchase more so minimum wage in Yakima County has definitely increased faster than the cost of living here."
But for smaller business owners in the valley, a minimum wage increase can hurt their bottom line.
Owner of Cruisin Coffee Jim Seamons owns two local coffee shops and employs about 20 people. He said he doesn't want to cut any employees because that would slow down his service, so he is forced to raise prices.
"Usually when I raise the prices, I'm taking care of most of the cost but not all of it," Seamons said. "I just hate raising the prices because of course we're here for customers."
Seamons said he sees the increase in wages causing a domino effect.
"It's going to hit companies large, small, all of them," he said. "It hits not only my labor but my cost of goods coming in. The people that deliver our products to us, they got the same rates going up so our costs of products are going up. It effects every last thing."
The minimum wage will continue to climb, next year it is going up $1.50 to $13.50 an hour.