With the start of 2023 just days away, business owners at the Santa Maria Town Center are getting ready for the next set of minimum wage increases that take effect January 1.
This coming Sunday, California's minimum wage will go up from $15 an hour to $15.50.
"Higher wages means better retention," said Kenneth Huge, owner of Leisure Time Games at the Santa Maria Town Center.
Guge tells KSBY he does not expect the wage increase to be a huge adjustment for his business, as he already makes it a priority to pay his staff members above the minimum rate.
"If you are paying minimum wage, you get minimum effort. If you pay better than minimum wage, you get better than minimum effort." Guge added.
Curt Miller, the owner of Sportscard Fantasy, another business at the Town Center, admits the pay increases may come with additional challenges.
"What people don't realize is how it affects the pricing of products. Inflation is bad right now, and it will just get worse as minimum wage goes up," said Miller.
Both business owners we spoke to said as a result of minimum wage earners making more money, they will also have to bump up pay for the rest of their staff, too.
"My higher wage earners will have to be increased. And overall, it affects business, it affects the economy, and anybody that thinks a family of four is living off minimum wage it is just not true." Miller added.
The increased hourly earnings for minimum wage workers comes after a 2016 vote from California lawmakers called for a fifty-cent hike to the current minimum wage if inflation rose more than 7% between the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years.
Kenneth Guge, adding that despite the impacts of inflation he will be ready for the higher wages.
"We have had an increase in sales. A lot of people have been coming in and buying things lately," Guge told KSBY. "Even with the doom and gloom of the recession coming, it hasn't really affected anything yet."
The incoming minimum wage increase to $15.50 an hour will make California the state with the highest hourly earnings. Along with California, 26 other states in the country will also raise their minimum wages starting on Sunday.