Grand Strand businesses react to Biden’s proposal to raise minimum wage to $15/hour

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Grand Strand businesses are reacting to President Joe Biden’s stimulus proposal to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

While addressing the nation, President Biden said “no one working 40 hours a week should live below the poverty line.”

This is part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 recovery plan that includes $1,400 stimulus checks to many Americans, expanding paid leave for workers, and increasing tax credits for families with children.

Currently, South Carolina’s minimum wage is $7.25 an hour but some democratic lawmakers are pushing to more than double that to $15 an hour.

The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour has been the same since it was last raised in 2009.

Senator Lindsey Graham’s office told News13 that the does support raising the minimum wage but hasn’t specified an amount. News13 also reached out to Senator Tim Scott, Rep. Tom Rice, and Rep. Fry’s office for comment, but haven’t heard back.

News13 sister station WSPA reported in 2019 that several South Carolina lawmakers wanted to raise the state’s minimum wage.

According to a 2019 report from the Congressional Budget Office, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would put 1.3 million Americans out of poverty but another 1.3 million Americans would then lose their jobs because employees would deem them too expensive to hire.

“If I have three people doing $10 an hour, that’s $30. So now those three same people I got to pay $45 so what happens is, I can only afford to keep two and then one goes on unemployment, so where’s the benefit here?” said Larry Higgins, Owner of BurgerFi’s location in Surfside.

Higgins said with businesses struggling, it’s the wrong time to raise the minimum wage.

“Since we’re in a pandemic and people are struggling, really struggling, especially small business owners, we’re trying to keep afloat, and this is the wrong time to double — more than double the minimum wage,” Higgins said.

Owner and Operator of Mellow Mushroom restaurants Matt Duke said “as a business owner, naturally I want my employees to make as much money as possible but also as a business owner I have to remain profitable so there’s a direct cause and effect for raising the minimum wage.” 

A possible effect is the price of product rising for the consumer.

“It’s not something you magically just raise the minimum wage to $15 and that money just appears, you have to get it from the consumer,” Duke said.

Duke added that “your cost of goods is going to increase pretty much double if you’re going to raise the minimum wage to double.”

Chelsea Hallady, a server at Mellow Mushroom, said during slow seasons it’d be great to raise the minimum wage but also said people would probably tip less.

“As a server that would be incredible because we’re only making $2.13 an hour plus tips we get to keep,” Hallady said.

“We definitely have discussed it with the management staff and our team and hopefully lawmakers can understand there’s got to be a happy medium somewhere,” Duke said.

There is currently no timeline for the proposed relief package but officials with the White House are beginning to schedule meetings with lawmakers to discuss it.

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