$15 Minimum Wage Worries California Business Owners

Date: April 06, 2016 Last Edit: April 07, 2016

New minimum wage proposal will wreak havoc on small businesses, NFIB member says.

$15 Minimum Wage Worries California Business Owners

Gov. Jerry Brown’s bank-breaking minimum wage hike is worrying California business owners about their survival.

Over Easter weekend, Brown worked together with labor groups to craft a proposal that would raise the minimum wage to $15 statewide by 2022. Once at $15, the wage would rise with inflation. Small business owners say they were not involved in creating this bill, and some say it will force many owners out of business.

“It’s been very secretive and very closed,” said NFIB California State Communications Director Shawn Lewis. “Profits are slim to begin with, and some people aren’t going to be able to operate.”

For Alzada Knickerbocker, owner of Avid Reader and Avid Reader Active, an increased minimum wage means cutting jobs, reducing hours or closing shop.

“I think legislators have an abstract idea of what is good for everyone, but often they haven’t worked in the private sector,” Knickerbocker said. “To mandate a one-size-fits-all wage is a bad idea.”

Avid Reader has been a mainstay in Davis, California for 29 years. The business has weathered bad times, with Knickerbocker steering the store with a steady hand for nearly three decades. Business has been easiest for her in times of fewer regulations, Knickerbocker said.

“The more income I’m allowed to retain allows me to grow my business, hire people and expand into the marketplace,” Knickerbocker said.

The minimum wage hike will further harm California’s anti-business climate. Chief Executive magazine ranked the state dead last in its “Best and Worst States for Business” list in 2015, due to its high taxes, strict regulations and slow economic growth, among other factors.

The minimum wage was already increased $1 at the beginning of the year, so another increase will make it even harder for businesses to keep up with the rapidly increasing cost of doing business, Lewis said. 

“Over 90 percent of our members think this is a bad idea,” Lewis said. “Any increase in minimum wage will severely affect small businesses.”

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