Thanks to the new minimum wage law, over five million workers in California will receive higher wages by 2022. However, it might be a “double-edged sword” to some business owners—and maybe even employees— in Alhambra.
The minimum wage hike will take effect over a period of six years statewide. UC Berkeley released a report estimating that 5.6 million workers will see an average annual increase of $3,700. Some have argued that, while the new law will result in an increase of pay, it will also lead to a decrease of jobs, especially for small businesses.
“Alhambra and the SGV are filled with small business owners that came here as immigrants,” said Evie Jeang, a litigator who specializes in family law and labor law. She is also the founder of Ideal Legal Group in Alhambra. She is supportive to the wage hike, but she also has concerns about the legal efficiency. She believes some immigrant small business owners may be prone to violating the new law, because they may not have access to the resources that will educate them about the new guidelines. “They might try to pay employees under the table with cash" to bypass the laws, said Jeang. That would lead to serious penalties.
Researchers from UC Berkeley, however, said that the hike will have limited impact on the number of available jobs. They also maintained that the law will help alleviate income inequality. “We expect the proposed law to have large positive effects on living standards for a large number of California workers and very small effects on employment,” said Ken Jacobs, chair of the Labor Center at UC Berkeley.
Some employees worry that a higher inflation rate could be one of the consequences that stem from the wage hike. “I am happy to see people get higher pay, but the customer is going to pay for it,” said Madina Miguel, who works in a barber shop on Valley Blvd. He thinks business owners will raise prices to mitigate the wage hike. “It is a double-edged sword,” he said.
Amy Tse, who works at the Belly Buster sandwich shop in Alhambra, shares similar concerns with Miguel. “First, we may have to raise the prices. Then we have to deal with customers. It will be very difficult,” she said. She is worried that other businesses will follow in the same vein. “Of course, I am happy to get higher pay. But when I go to eat, I will spend more on food,” she said.
Some cities in the SGV have been a step ahead on the minimum wage hike. Pasadena got a jump-start on this matter when it approved in March a raise in its minimum wage, according to San Gabriel Valley Tribune. The minimum wage will be raised annually according to the local consumer price index after 2022, which means employees in Pasadena will receive higher pay, if inflation goes up.