Local businesses react to minimum wage increase

MEDFORD, Ore. — The minimum wage in Oregon is going up today.

It comes as many businesses are already struggling with the pandemic.

Two local business owners told me they may have to have raise prices, in order to compensate for paying their employees increased wages.

“My employees deserve, you know, every penny that they earn,” said co-owner and general manager of Tap & Vine at 559, Adam Benson.

He says paying his employees the new $12 minimum wage is possible – just difficult after his restaurant had to temporarily close because of coronavirus.

“It’s a perfect storm of negative things, I mean, I’m a total proponent of minimum wage and a living wage it’s just bad timing with everything going on,” said Benson.

According to the Oregon Employment Department, 6,500 jobs in Jackson County pay minimum wage, with 45% of those jobs falling in the leisure and hospitality sector.

The agency says that accounts for 6.5% of total jobs in the county.

“We’re gonna have to raise prices accordingly because of it, it is a little bit of a threat but again, I’m not against it,” Benson added.

Not far from Tap & Vine at 559, management at Great Harvest Bread Company on Gennesse Street is having similar thoughts.

Owner Lisa Allen says she has mixed feelings about the wage increase.

“I would say in general, I don’t like to be told what to pay my employees,” Allen said.

She says it can be a problem for her since she hires a lot of entry level employees.

“I already have a difficult time finding employees, but especially any employees that have any job experience,” she said.

The minimum wage increased to $12 per hour for Jackson and Josephine County, in Klamath County it’s rising to $11.50.

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