EUGENE, Ore. — Seattle’s minimum wage is on the rise. Soon, it will be the highest in the country at $15 an hour.
Small businesses in Eugene are split when it comes to the minimum wage debate.
Some say they would be willing to pay their employees more of a livable wage, but others say if they had to pay employees more they might be forced to shut their doors.
The Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce says of the 10,000 businesses in Lane County, 75 percent have 10 or fewer employees. It says these would be the businesses that would feel the biggest pinch if the state increased the minimum wage.
But the owner of Sweet Life Patisserie says it supports raising the minimum wage because it could help the economy.
“Every dollar you put extra in a person’s pocket who is poor, they will spend it in the local economy. And that’s great for the local economy. It’s great for the larger economy,” said Cheryl Reinhart, Sweet Life co-owner.
“Even if it’s well intentioned, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have significant cost and impacts to business,” said Dave Hauser, president of Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce.
One local economist says it’s hard to predict what impacts raising the minimum wage could have because businesses could do a number of different things to make up for the fact that they’re paying employees more, including charging more for services or cutting benefits.