San Diego

Local Businesses Hit Hard by Minimum Wage Increase

By the year 2022, the minimum wage in California will be $15

It's been just over a month since the City of San Diego increased its minimum wage to $11.50 an hour.

It's an adjustment period for thousands of local business owners like Juan Pablo Sanchez. He supports the $1 increase that went into effect on Jan. 1 but he admits that costs are adding up and his profits are taking a hit.

Sanchez owns the Super Cocina restaurant in City Heights.

"If you're a small business owner, you're feeling the pinch right now," he said. "This is what small business owners are talking about right now."

Sanchez has not increased the prices at his Mexican Food Restaurant but soon enough, he said he will have to in order to make ends meet.

"When wages go up, everything else goes up," Sanchez said. "It's a double edged sword. My employees tell me whenever their wages increase, so does their rent. A lot of them are being pushed out of their neighborhoods."

Super Cocina has 12 employees, including Ruby. She told NBC 7, the extra cash has been great.

"I was able to buy more food and pay off my phone bill a lot faster," she said.

Sanchez hopes the minimum wage increase takes place throughout the county and not just in San Diego. He said he feels that small San Diego shops can't compete fairly with nearby cities like Chula Vista or National City, which has a lower minimum wage.

"We are two exits away from a different city that pays a different minimum wage," he said. "It makes it a little unfair for us. I would love for this to be county wide."

In the Gaslamp area, some restaurants issued a surcharge to offset the higher wages employers have to pay.

San Diego resident Joe Wilson doesn't agree with the surcharge or the hike wages.

"Businesses can't afford it," Wilson argued. "The competition is fierce right now. Minimum wage isn't good for everybody. If that were the case, why not make it $15, or $20 or $40? Where do you draw the line?"

But customers like Kristena Kirk disagreed.

"If I had to pay workers more for the same level of service because the minimum wage went up, I may actually be okay with the surcharge," Kirk said. "People think of minimum wage and they relate it to big box stores. They think 'oh they can afford it.' But they forget about all the mom and pop businesses out there."

Several minimum wage increases are scheduled in San Diego and throughout California over the next five years. By the year 2022, the minimum wage in California will be $15.

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