Small business concerned over NYS minimum wage increase

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Small businesses in Monroe County are anxious about a minimum wage increase to 70 cents in New York at the end of the year. Arlene’s Costumes says they don’t feel the time is right for it.

The company has been in business for over 60 years. They tell us, in order to fight the pandemic, they’ve extended their business online. While they’re family-owned, it’s been difficult to hire and even retain outside employees. The thought of increasing the minimum wage just wouldn’t make sense. Employees say, business is booming, the time of year is playing a huge part in that with customers grabbing Halloween costumes.

"We are very busy, on our websites, we do Amazon, eBay, Walmart,” Terry Sinopoli said, the marketing manager for the shop.

This week, the New York State Department of Labor announced that minimum wage upstate will increase by .70, bringing it $13.20.

"Trying to hire people, the minimum wage factor makes a huge difference in that, and trying to bring on more people at this time just isn’t practical,” Sinopoli said.

This increase will happen at the end of the year. Arlene’s is offering the current minimum wage of $12.50 for retail associates. The company says the pandemic has made it a struggle to find employees outside of the family-run business. The majority of their financial resources have gone into keeping the business afloat, so an increase in wage might complicate things for them.

"We would love to be able to hire some extra staff and to be able to have a little more security with that, but we just can’t do that right now.”

The state has the option of holding off on an annual minimum wage increase, based on economic factors. In making the wage hike announcement Monday, the labor commissioner hoped that it might help with the ongoing worker shortage, which is showing no signs of improvement.