Kingman: Higher Minimum Wage Challenges Business

While some employees got a boost in pay, businesses say they’re struggling

Rhonda Chapman, owner of Calico’s Restaurant, at her restaurant on Friday.

Photo by JC Amberlyn.

Rhonda Chapman, owner of Calico’s Restaurant, at her restaurant on Friday.

“Some businesses have indicated that it is going to be very difficult to stay in business. What we’re hearing from our chamber businesseses is they have certainly had to make adjustments due to the rise in the minimum wage.”

Greg Martin/President & CEO

Kingman Chamber of Commerce

Although a higher minimum wage is a good thing for some employees, several area businesses are struggling to find a way to make it work financially.

Although the Daily Miner found it difficult to find businesses that wanted to talk about it, President and CEO of the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce Gregg Martin said that some businesses have told him they are struggling to adjust to the new law.

In November of last year, voters approved Proposition 206, which raised the minimum wage to $10 an hour in 2017 and mandated sick leave for employees, according to ballotpedia.org.

“Some businesses have indicated that it is going to be very difficult to stay in business,” Martin said. “What we’re hearing from our chamber businesseses is they have certainly had to make adjustments due to the rise in the minimum wage.”

He said the adjustments include raising prices to “cover the cost of business,” reducing employees’ hours or staff, and “replacing human hours with technology,” if possible.

He said the mandated sick leave is another issue for businesses.

“Sick leave is as significant (an issue) as the rise in minimum wage for most businesses,” he said.

“Nobody would argue that we want the quality of life to get better for our employees, but there are real business issues to be dealt with,” he said.

Rhonda Chapman, owner of Calico’s restaurant, said she has had to reduce staff in order to “make payroll.”

“It has given some workers an unfair advantage,” she said. “The front (wait) staff got raises” and now the “kitchen help makes a comparable” wage.

“We don’t have a lot of staff,” she said, adding she will have to hire people to cover when her staff is on sick leave.

“The cost of food has gone up, (which) took another piece out of profits that we just don’t have,” she said.

Restaurants operate on a “slim profit margin,” she said.

James Jarman, spokesman for Mohave Community College, said the college does not “foresee any negative impact to college services because of this.”

The college had a long range plan in the event this would happen, Jarman said.

“Under the college president’s leadership, the college has gone through several cost savings measures to ensure the public’s money is spent wisely,” he said.