Impact of new minimum wage on Arizona jobs

Updated: Jun. 12, 2017 at 6:30 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Numbers released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, Arizona added 10,800 new jobs in the food and beverage industry in the first four months of 2017.

It was thought, when the new minimum wage kicked in on January 1, the industry would shed jobs.

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

The minimum wage went up to $10.50 an hour at the beginning of the new year and continues until it reaches $12 an hour in 2020.

It's thought one reason the industry added jobs is because there is a national trend of people eating out more often.

"We see a lot of new faces," said Jonathan Tehrani, manager of Coffee XChange on East Tanque Verde.

Still, he questions the numbers because many of the business owners he had talked with cut hours and employees when the wages went up.

"We were 24/7 and we cut back to 11 o'clock," he said. "We took out an entire shift."

The company is expanding however to take advantage of the growing east side and opened a store in downtown, which is also seeing growth.

Tehrani also said most of the other companies he's talked to have laid off workers or cut back hours, "and some have had to close altogether," he said.

Kelly Parcell, a server at Jerry Bob's, believes it is the new normal and people have adjusted.

"We expected that we would lose a little bit of business until people get used to it and then they are going to see that prices went up everywhere not just us," she said. "Its something they are just going to have to get used to."

Tehrani raised prices by 50 to 75 cents per item when the minimum wage kicked in and may have to again in January when the next step in the hike takes effect.

"We don't want to raise prices because when customers see that, they don't like it," he said. "But when they raise the minimum wage, you don't have a choice."

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