Minimum wage may increase - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Minimum wage may increase

Posted: Updated:

KENNEWICK, Wash.—Washington State has one of the highest minimum wages in the country.  Now, business owners and employees are waiting to hear whether or not it will increase even more in 2012.  Labor and Industries is expected to make an announcement Friday.

Even before the announcement, the belief is that minimum wage will increase in 2012.  It is based on the Consumer Price Index, or the cost of living, which has gone up in 2011. 

This is good news for those making the current minimum wage, $8.67 an hour. However, it may not only make it more difficult for employers and employees but also people looking for work.

"This is just one aspect where it's going to be a little bit harder to get a job because of the cost of an employer to pay somebody," says Colin Hastings, Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce.

Hastings says minimum wage is expected to increase up to 4% in 2012.  One local business owner says this may mean he will have to assess his team.

"Unfortunately it will probably effect the hours that we offer our employees, and it may effect the number of people we have employed as well," Steve Simmons, Country Gentlemen.

NBC first met with Simmons when minimum wage went up January 1st 2011.  He said he would have to make cuts, but they never materialized.  He says it's because he saw business growth.  However, he is not as hopeful for 2012.

"Things don't look as good for 2012," says Simmons.

Simmons says because the cost of food and diesel fuel have skyrocketed this past year, the possibility of a pay increase makes business look grim.

"I'm concerned that we will hit a point where it will be extraordinarily difficult for particularly small operators to stay in business," says Simmons.

"Are you going to see that job loss? I don't know but it might stifle job creation," says Hastings.

NBC did contact the local labor economist to see how much employment was impacted by the 2011 minimum wage increase, but there is no record.

NBC also contacted the Labor and Industries but the representative would only say that they will make an announcement about minimum wage Friday and would not comment further.