BUFFALO NY (WIVB) – Starting in the new year, some people across the state will see their salaries increase. The minimum wage in Western New York will increase to $15 an hour.
Local restaurants, including Mooney’s in Kenmore and Hofbräuhaus in Buffalo, say they already pay their workers well above minimum wage. Owners say it’s the only way to hire quality cooks and servers, but by raising the minimum wage, they’re going to have to raise wages across the board.
“I think New York state is already a difficult environment for a lot of small businesses and raising the minimum wage in general makes it even more difficult,” said Edward Arnold, who runs the Hofbräuhaus.
For workers who rely on tips, such as bartenders and servers, their pay is $10 an hour, with an expected $5 an hour in tips.
“They will make more per hour, but if that price that is passed on to the customer results in fewer customers, they will make a lot less,” Arnold said.
Chris McCann of Mooney’s says running a local business has its fair share of challenges. It’s not clear whether raising the minimum wage statewide is the best idea.
“As an owner and a business, you can only take so much before you have to raise your prices,” he said. “The problem is food costs are going to go up, because the cost of producing food is going to go up, trucking is going to go up, the number of people stocking the shelves is going to go up. Everything is going to increase across the board, which is going to increase my price for everything, which is going to increase my prices for customers.
Frederick Floss, an economics professor at Buffalo State University, believes that raising the minimum wage has more positives than negatives for the local economy. He says raising wages could help people rely less on government-subsidized programs.
“For people who earn less, that means they’ll have more money in their pocket,” Floss said. “For the government, if this starts to lift people out of poverty, that means they’ll have to pay less in food stamps, less in [Home Energy Assistance Program].”
Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated journalist and Buffalo native who has been a part of the News 4 team since 2019. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahMinkewicz and click here to see more of her work.
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