Traverse City Restaurants React To Michigan Minimum Wage Increase

Another increase for the start of 2017 in Michigan will mean a bigger paycheck for workers who earn the minimum wage, going from $8.50 to $8.90 as of Sunday. 

In continuing coverage, 9 and 10’s Megan Atwood and photojournalist Harrison Light explain why some business owners aren’t looking forward to the change and others say it doesn’t change a thing.

“Everything is going to go up. I mean just because it’s going to be like the last time when it went up,” says manager at Thai Kitchen, Jessy Reyes.

In Michigan, minimum wage workers will now see a little extra money when they take home their paychecks. But businesses say it may actually hurt them eventually.

“Everyone needs to absorb the cost somehow and no one wants to make the profits lower so they have to make up for it by passing on the costs to the customers,” continues Reyes.

The forty cent increase is the state’s second step in the climb to $9.25 an hour on January 1st, 2018.

Thai Kitchen manager Jessy Reyes, worries its businesses like the one he works for that will be most impacted by the change. Paying workers more money may mean spending more for product.

“We’re going to see it through our distributors. So everyone will have to go through their warehouses, they have to pay their workers now more, and they’ll pass the cost to us, then unfortunately we have to pass it on to our customers,” Reyes goes on to say.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Frenchies Famous in Traverse City says they’ll stick to paying more than minimum wage.

Owner French Clements says, “We believe in paying what people are worth.”

Clements tells us, that’s the way it’s been since they opened. They pay their employees a few dollars above the minimum and intend to increase pay this year, as the minimum wage goes up.

“I would always adjust. Our employees and staff will get raises based on their merits. There’s competition for help right now so you have to pay a competitive wage,” Clements says.