St. Pete restaurant owners concerned over minimum wage hike proposal in Florida

7:15 PM, Jan 29, 2014   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida-- President Obama's proposed minimum wage hike of $10.10 for some federal minimum wage workers has local restaurant owners concerned about having to eventually raise prices if Florida adopts the same hike for all minimum wage workers. 

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Florida democrats in Miami already have the legislation on the table, but raising the minimum wage in Florida from $7.93 to $10.10 is not small change for some entrepreneurs. 

"My first impression is 'I don't like it' because I don't like higher costs when it comes to the government, but when it comes to the workers, I do think it is a step in the right direction," said JJ's Market restaurant and Kahunas Bar and Grill co-owner Jim Kenrick. 

Kenrick and his wife Jody have owned Kahuna's for 20 years and JJ's Market for three years. 

"It's going to create inflation, so from a negative stand-point, we have to pay worker's comp; we have to pay social security on higher wages. Employers aren't going to like it because it's going to cost more. We will have to raise prices."

He does see the light at the end of the tunnel though. 

"It could be positive because employers will find a way to make money by raising prices, cutting costs, and then employees can buy houses and come out to eat at our restaurants."

Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Tampa, Dr. Josh Hall believes the wage increase is a short-term fix to solving the inequality gap.

"I am really looking forward to, long-term, addressing more structured issues," said Dr. Hall. "I really believe we need to focus on education on all levels- from a young age to high school graduation and technical school. President Obama can only do so much through his executive order, but maybe the states start taking the lead."

Dr. Hall is aware the Florida lawmakers are reviewing the state minimum wage increase proposal, and while he likes the idea for now, he said it will not solve the ultimate problem. 

"We don't mind people getting wealthier, but you combine that with stagnant or even declining wages- that's when this frustration comes.That is why you see this demand for short-term measures to try and address this inequality," said Dr, Hall. 

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