Lawmakers are expected to make a final decision on Friday whether or not to increase the minimum wage in Hawaii.
Most workers are on board with the idea of a pay raise, but some small business owners say raising the minimum wage could have a big impact.
Hawaii is one of the most expensive places to live in the country, so many don’t understand why other states have a higher minimum wage.
Business owners in Hawaii say a $2 increase in wages could have a huge impact on everything consumers buy.
“It’s probably going to also affect the cost of doing business so our prices are going to have to increase and I think it’s just going to go up from there,” said Gayla Young, owner of Pipeline Bake Shop and Creamery in Kaimuki.
Even though unemployment is at its lowest in years, if the bill passes, experts warn it could push employers to cut hours and jobs.
“We are already starting to see people be laid off,” said Tina Yamaki, President of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii. “This might just push the recession even further and faster.”
Testimony opposing the minimum wage increase from the Hawaii Restaurant Association stated that when New York City raised their minimum wage to $15, about 77% of full-service restaurants said they planned on reducing employee hours and 53% planned to eliminate jobs.
“You’re not only going to see businesses closing, you’re going to see people’s hours being cut, you’re also going to see more automation,” Yamaki said.
She says insurance is a big part of that.
Small businesses also worry many mom and pop shops would shut down if the bill goes through.
“To increase that and have the insurance factor come in, it’s going to be tough,” Young said.
The House Bill did consider a $50,000 tax credit to offset the minimum wage increase.