Minimum wage increase helps some, hurts others

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by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @Drewmikk

KING5.com

Posted on January 1, 2013 at 6:28 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 1 at 6:40 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Megan Leaver didn't know she was getting a raise when she showed up to work Tuesday, but she'll take it.

The waitress at Olympia's The Reef restaurant will make about $300 more a year. That’s $6 more a week.

"If you have six extra dollars a week, that's a sandwich," said Leaver.

Thousands of minimum wage workers in Washington state now earn fifteen more cents an hour as of Jan. 1.

Washington minimum wage earners were already the highest paid in the country. Now, they earn $9.19 an hour.

Business owners like Mike Heelan are not celebrating the increase.

"It squeezes our margins," said Heelan, whose family has owned O'Blarney's Irish Pub in Olympia since 1984.

Heelan figures the increase will cost his business $8,000 this year. To offset those costs, he's raised beer and happy hour prices.

He would like to decide how much to pay his employees, but state law requires the minimum wage be adjusted based on inflation. Voters authorized the increases in a 1998 initiative.

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