Rochester businesses say Minnesota minimum wage increase isn’t enough

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(ABC 6 News) – The new year will bring a pay boost for many minimum-wage workers across Minnesota.

But some say it’s just glossing over a much bigger problem: Too many people still aren’t making enough money to live a decent quality of life.

Depending on how big the company they work for is, Minnesota minimum wage earners will earn either 21 or 26 cents more per hour when the new wage takes effect on January 1st.

Large businesses that make over half a million dollars a year must pay workers at least $10.59 an hour. That’s up 26 cents from the previous minimum wage. Businesses that make less than $500,000 a year must pay their employees at least $8.63 an hour, which is an increase of just 21 cents an hour.

At The Tap House restaurant in downtown Rochester, the servers said they currently make minimum wage but they said this increase probably won’t cut it.

“If we’re looking for something that will really make a change in your everyday lives, grocery shopping or getting gas, you’d want to see more,” Ricardo Chavez, a bartender at The Tap House, said. “You know, 26 cents is not much. It’s something so we can be grateful for that but at the end of the day, ideally, everybody wants more money so.”

Chavez said he makes more than the minimum wage, but for his coworkers who are servers, he said the extra change might even go unnoticed.

“I mean if you work a crazy amount of hours, maybe you’ll see a big difference in the check but if not then I think most people are just kind of like ‘oh I didn’t really notice the difference’ you know?” he said.

Cafe Steam in downtown Rochester said this minimum wage increase will not affect its employees. Co-owner Will Forsman said the coffee shop has been offering pay well over the minimum wage for at least five years now. The same goes for ThaiPop, a restaurant a few doors down.

We crunched some of the numbers to see if this wage increase is livable in Rochester. The total take-home pay after taxes for a full-time job making this minimum wage is $1,340 a month.

But here’s what it costs to live in Rochester. Including just the basics, the average rent cost is $800 a month, groceries are $200, an electric bill is about $30 a month, and gas for your car averages about $114 a month. All of those expenses total $1,144 a month. That would leave you with just under $200 left each month and we didn’t factor in other monthly costs like internet, heat, a cell phone bill, car or health insurance. These are averages calculated for a single adult living in Rochester with no children or pets.