US City With Highest Min Wage Signals a ‘Tipping Point,’ Businesses Uncertain on How They’ll ‘Survive It’

The continued hike in the minimum wage in one California city — which has the highest in the U.S. — has local business owners worried.

The city of Emeryville, California, garnered the title of being the highest minimum wage city in the United States when the city saw a minimum wage hike in July from $15 to $16.30, according to The Wall Street Journal. Due to the city’s high cost of living in the Bay Area region, supporters of the wage hike saw it necessary.

Thomas White/Reuters

However, Patatas Neighborhood Kitchen owner Marcos Quezada told the Journal that he had to layoff six employees and slash the dinner shift to make ends meet. He said he was unsure “how [he] was going to survive it.”

Another local business owner Erik Hansen warned, “There is a tipping point” — which his “tipping point” is boiling down to whether he has to let an employee go or increase sandwich prices.

Hansen said, “We may have the highest minimum wage, but I don’t think the people in Emeryville will feel like paying the highest prices in the country.”

Lawmakers look to raise the federal minimum wage to $15

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed a bill on July 18 to hike the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025.

Among the Democrats advocating for the national pay raise for Americans across the U.S. include Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who previously called tipped jobs “indentured servitude.” Her fellow freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), however, recently suggested that $15 wasn’t enough, as she believes the federal minimum wage should instead be $20 per hour.

On the other hand, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) blasted the House bill, as he pointed out the “truth about this policy.” He noted the “two big problems” as being “bad economics” and a “one-size-fits-all policy,” as IJR Red previously reported.

The Senate is unlikely to take up the bill, as Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) knocked it after its passage in the House.

“We don’t need to lose jobs, we don’t have enough jobs now,” he said. “This would depress the economy at a time of economic boom. We’re not going to be doing that in the Senate.”

According to the Congressional Budget Office, up to 3.7 million workers could lose their jobs if the federal minimum wage is increased to $15 per hour.

Additionally, “Under this option, the minimum cash wage for tipped workers would immediately increase from $2.13 per hour to $3.60 per hour and would then increase by $1.50 each year until it reached the regular minimum wage. That would happen in 2029, CBO projects.”

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