Opponents of raising the minimum wage warn businesses could react with mass layoffs or soul-crushing price increases. But an owner of one of those businesses just said those arguments are complete crap.
Here's what Han Kim, a partner at a Holiday Inn Express franchise, said when the Wall Street Journal asked him how his business would react to a $15 minimum wage:
"We are running pretty thin as it is so we cannot eliminate positions," he says. Increasing the price of a room is too risky, he adds. "I cannot go around changing prices without my competition [also] changing them. . . . We'll have to make less money I guess."
Kim's Holiday Inn is located in SeaTac, Wash., a small city just outside of Seattle that is on track to raise the local minimum wage to $15 per hour next month. (For reference, Washington state's minimum wage is $9.19, and the federal minimum wage is even lower, at $7.25.)
In Kim's eyes, even with a dramatically higher minimum wage, both layoffs and prices increases are off the table. The former would mean he couldn't run his business, and the latter would give his competitors an edge.
Of course, the end result -- his making less money -- is potentially still bad news. With less profit, Kim will have less to invest in additional employees, hurting what the wonks call job growth. That's a problem for people still looking for work. But it's a different, more complicated problem than the one we often hear about.
However it goes, SeaTac, a little airport economy of some 27,000 in the Northwest of the U.S., will provide a real-life test case for what has otherwise been a theoretical battle taking place across the nation. Last week, fast food workers walked off the job in multiple cities across the nation demanding the $15 per hour minimum wage that SeaTac is about to enact.