HONOLULU (KHON2) — Minimum wage workers in the islands got a raise over the weekend, as the state’s hourly wage increased by a dollar and 90 cents, a hike that may not seem like a drastic increase, but a small business owner said he is feeling the squeeze.
From $10.10 to $12 an hour, Hawaii’s minimum wage increased on October 1 and lawmakers passed the bill with the purpose to improve the livelihood and health of employees.
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The owner of the Teapresso in Mililani and Wahiawa, Keoni Ahlo said, many of his workers are in high school and get paid the minimum wage. He said paying employees nearly two dollars more an hour will be felt in his operating costs.
Ahlo said, “For us, it’s a big deal it hit us hard, we saw the increase I think our salaries went up, the wages went up over $6,000 a month.”
Businesses have been expecting the minimum wage to increase for months now, but what many did not expect was for everything else to also go up.
Ahlo shared a breakdown of some of his operating costs on social media, comparing costs from last year to today. In a way letting his loyal customers know why certain items on the menu may cost more.
“It’s been kind of challenging and it’s all come at one time which is the hard part, if it sort of rolled in in phases we might be able to adapt and adjust,” Ahlo said. “Our electricity bill jumped, it was like 40% higher and we were shocked.”
He said his electric bill jumped from $1,800 a month to $3,100, and boba straws that meet the City’s new disposable food ware ordinance are now costing him three times more.
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He said, “It’s almost like, how can we bring the cost that high up? Because people won’t be understanding that that’s not us trying to make more, it’s just trying to cover the cost of goods and the cost of operating a small business like this.”
For small shop owners, all ideas for bringing costs down are on the table. For Ahlo, it could mean reducing the menu as well as finding ways to automate parts of his operation.