VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) – The approaching new year will bring a significant change for businesses in Washington and their employees.
For the third straight year, the state’s minimum wage is increasing, from $12 to $13.50 per hour.
Gary Paul, who owns Trusty Brewing in Vancouver, predicts a significant impact on small businesses like his.
“Prices will be going up all the way across the board in every industry. And we’ll see increased prices everywhere,” Paul said.
Because the bar and restaurant industry employs primarily minimum wage workers, those businesses are bracing for the impact of the wage increase.
“Ultimately, we support it, because we support the staff. It’s going to be hard on us,” said Stephen Dean, who owns and operates Brickhouse Bar and Restaurant with his wife.
Deans expects he’ll have to increase beer and food prices to defray the cost of the wage increase.
Two studies by researchers at the University of Washington looked into the impact of wage increases in Seattle, which has a minimum wage higher than the rest of the state.
One study found child care centers increased tuition and reduced staff hours as a result of the wage increases.
The second study found no noticeable increases in food prices at supermarkets that could be tied to the wage increases.
As for the Washington restaurant industry, Deans said he and other business owners will likely look for ways to run more efficiently.
“We do lose some hours. Employees do lose some hours here or there,” said Deans.
After 2020, future increases to Washington’s minimum wage will be calculated by the state’s Department of Labor and Industries, based on the Federal Consumer Price Index.
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