Business managers look at price of raising minimum wage

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Federal contracted workers will be seeing bigger paychecks with their new minimum wage of $10.10, but the thought of raising it to this level for all employees across the country has some business managers thinking about their options.

Del Taco just hired 65 employees for its new branch on North Ave., however, restaurant representatives said they would've hired 10 or 15 less people if minimum wage was more than $10 an hour.

"Maybe would’ve transferred a few people from the other store," said HB Mason, Del Taco operations partner.

If it does go up to $10.10, Mason said layoffs could be on their way.

"Everyone is going to be like, 'Hey if they get more, I get more,'" Mason said. "Then all of a sudden we're going to have to let some people go and only pay those who we can afford."

Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke said this could be the case for all types of businesses, but especially small ones, which make up 90% of the business base in the area.

"There just aren’t enough dollars in their businesses to start with to be able to absorb some sharp costs in payroll or anything else," Schwenke said.

Colorado raised its minimum wage to $8 an hour starting January 1, 2014, but Schwenke said the state's yearly increase coincides with cost of living.

"If you were to all of a sudden raise the minimum wage by more than two dollars that can have a lot of devastating at least short-term impacts," she said.

Right now, the Republican-led House of Representatives has been blocking the proposal to raise the federal minimum wage.

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