Raising MN Minimum Wage "Complicated," Says Duluth Restaurant

By KBJR News 1

Raising MN Minimum Wage "Complicated," Says Duluth Restaurant

February 26, 2013 Updated Feb 26, 2013 at 9:34 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Supporters of raising the Minnesota minimum wage argued their point at the Capitol Monday, saying the move would boost the economy by promoting consumer spending.

"I think it's a good conversation to have, you know we really as a society are challenged in terms of what is that base level of employment at which it's reasonable to support a family,"
but Minnesota District 7 Representative Roger Reinert.

But Reinert—one of many lawmakers to listen in on the discussion—said he, too, recognizes both sides of the story: "At which point do we price first time employees, our high school students, our part time college students, out of the labor market?"

It's a dilemma that Gary Schneider—owner of Duluth bar and restaurant G.B. Schneider and Co.—says has him caught between a rock and a hard place.

"I am all for everybody making a living wage. I've been brought up that way; I've tried to do that with our employees," said Schneider, during Tuesday's lunch rush, "[but], to take a jump from where we are to $9 an hour would be devastating for most small businesses. It would knock them down."

Schneider says the time to raise minimum wage is long overdue, but going about it by forcing what he calls a sharp increase so fast would reverse any good the bill sought to do.

"Take a couple years so we can catch up. Or, have exemptions for some of the small businesses—maybe businesses that don't do a million dollars a year," said Schneider.

Some people say the solution to the dilemma is as simple as raising the prices on a menu, but Schneider says then it's the customers who are left with a bitter taste in their mouths.

"All of a sudden the people's restaurant dollars aren't going to go as far. That means they're going to eat out less—it doesn't benefit small business," said Schneider.

And there's still more to be considered.

According to Schneider, a minimum wage increase would also see a rise in the amount employees and employers would have to pay into FICA and Medicare.

The proposal could be seeing its first committee votes before the end of the week.

- Posted to the Web by Billy Wagness