Ice cream business owner: Minimum wage bump could eliminate jobs for teens

ARTICLE
SEPTEMBER 8, 2016
PUGET SOUND BUSINESS JOURNAL
CORAL GARNICK

High school and college students looking for part time work in the winter and full time work in the summer often flock to the retail and restaurant industries and Jack Walsh, owner of Sub Zero Ice Cream and Yogurt in Federal Way, has welcomed them the last five years with enthusiasm.

“One of my goals here,” Walsh said, “is to help my staff train to be ready for the real world.”

With a statewide increased minimum wage on the ballot in November, though, Walsh is worried passage would mean jobs for teenagers disappear.

The initiative, I-1433, asks voters to raise the state minimum wage from $9.47 an hour to $13.50 by 2020 and give all Washington workers the opportunity to earn paid sick leave.

Supporters have argued that by putting money back into the pockets of minimum wage workers, business will thrive and the state’s economy will increase. But some opponents have said the minimum wage issue should be handled by the Legislature and that businesses in rural communities may be forced to lay off employees, or worse, shut down, as a result of the increased wages. …

Ten of the 12 employees that work in the Federal Way Sub Zero store are in high school or college, and for the majority of them, it is their first job. …

“As I see it, it would be a challenge to stay in business,” Walsh said about increasing the minimum wage. “And if I am in business, instead of hiring teenagers, I’ll hire adults that are more productive.”

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