38° F
Partly Cloudy
Partly Cloudy
46° F
Partly Cloudy
Partly Cloudy
45° F

Bozeman businesses weigh in on minimum wage increase

Published On: Dec 31 2013 06:37:51 PM MST   Updated On: Dec 31 2013 08:15:51 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Minimum wage workers will see an extra dime for every hour they work starting in 2014. State law mandates Montana must adjust the minimum wage every year based on changes in inflation.

Employees and business owners in Bozeman explained what a dime really means for them in the long run. It is only a 10-cent increase from 2013 to 2014, but for those paying their way through college like Emma Arnold, it makes a difference.

"I would say every penny counts, helps make a difference, pay the rent," said Arnold.

Arnold has worked at Pickle Barrel in Bozeman since 2011. We looked at the U.S. Department of Labor's website to find her starting wage three years ago. It showed $7.35, 55 cents less per hour than she will be making starting in January.

"It is kind of helpful as everything else kind of increases every year,"  said Arnold.

But on the flip-side, local business owners like Kathy Schmidt say government-mandated increases can take away from employees who go above and beyond.

"A higher minimum wage to the person who is not trained, then that keeps me from bumping up wages on the ones that are really important here and could run the place without me," said Schmidt.

Schmidt has been in business in Bozeman for 25 years. She owns It's Greek To Me near downtown.  As a longtime business owner, she says it is not just the wages that can create issues.

"Unemployment, and your workers comp and everything else that goes along with payroll," said Schmidt.

Schmidt currently has two employees working for minimum wage, and tells us how the increase in minimum wage could have an impact on her daily operations.

"When you have low volume and high wages you just have to cut back on the number of people working at one time hours and cut back hours on some people because we can't afford to have a full crew sometimes," said Schmidt.

We checked the facts on what minimum wage rates will be in 2014 for some of our neighboring states. In Idaho they will sit at $7.25. In Wyoming, which is one of four states with a minimum wage below the federal minimum wage, the rate will be $5.15. Workers in the U.S. earning the highest minimum wage are in Washington State, making $9.32.