President pushes to raise minimum wage, store owners worried

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – During the State of the Union address President Barack Obama announced his push to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour, which could have a big impact on the Grand Strand where so many businesses hire seasonable employees for the tourism season.

Right now the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, a price Buz Plyler said he is just getting by paying to his workers at the Gay Dolphin gift shop in Myrtle Beach.

"I expect it to be a real blow to the business community in Myrtle Beach," Plyler said.  "We carry about 30 people through the winter and we'll have to pair some of those back and we'll have to lay some people off to get through the winter."

Plyler said if the minimum wage is raised, it will have a much bigger impact than when it was raised to $7.25 an hour.

"The last time we were paying over the minimum wage," added Plyler.  "Now we are at that same level and are struggling so it'll be a much more difficult thing to come up with the additional labor costs."

David McMillan said even though he already pays his workers more than minimum wage at his restaurant, Drunken Jack's in Murrells Inlet, he thinks he would have to pay more eventually if the minimum wage increases.

"We really don't have anybody that makes minimum wage of course but that is the bench mark that is set," McMillan said.  "I'm sure that people would be looking for raises accordingly."

An increase in the minimum wage rate could drive up the price of menu items at restaurants, added McMillan.

"If we increase from $7.25 to $9.00 then prices go up across the board and nobody is really better off," McMillan said.

Right now, increasing the minimum wage is just a proposal but 19 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wage rates set higher than $7.25 an hour.

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