Local businesses prepare to grapple with increase
St. JOHNS — In the wake of the ballot box success of the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act, better known as Proposition 206, the minimum wage in Arizona is set to increase Jan. 1.
The Arizona minimum wage is currently $8.05 for non-tipped employees, and $5.05 for workers who receive tips or gratuities. With the passage of Proposition 206, the wage will increase to $10 an hour for non-tipped workers and $7 an hour for tipped employees.
Apache County voters supported the ballot measure in increase the wage, 17,190 to 6,783.
Proposition 206 also requires employers to provide paid sick leave, which will allow employees to be paid if they are ill or injured or if they need to care for a sick child or another family member. Employers must credit employees one hour of sick pay for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours per year, for employers with 15 or more employees. Employers with fewer than 15 employees are only required to provide 24 hours of paid sick leave.
Arizona was one of four states that approved a minimum wage hike during the recent election, according to the website of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Colorado, Washington and Maine voters also raised wages in their states.
Like Arizona, Colorado and Maine’s minimum wage will rise gradually to $12 an hour by 2020. In Washington, the wage will reach $13.50. Earlier this year, California approved raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022.
The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 since 2009.
While wage-earning employees may be eagerly anticipating a 19.5 percent pay raise, small business owners in Apache County are not as enthusiastic.
Tim Sykes, owner of TLC’s Family Kitchen in St. Johns, is still looking at how the change will affect his business — and he is concerned.
“It’s kind of a sore subject to me,” he said.
With nine employees, he said will have to pay about $18 an hour extra.
“My food will go up or I’ll have to close my doors,” he said.
Sykes noted that his regular customers may not be able to afford higher prices.
“There are only two sit-down restaurants in this town. I need as much business as I can get,” he said.
Sykes feels the higher wage is more than those just starting out in the labor force, such as students, really require.
“It makes no sense to me for somebody to step right out of high school and make that kind of money,” he said. “It hurts the pocket book of small businesses.”
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