BARSTOW - Workers earning the minimum wage received a pay raise this week, aiding low-paid employees but creating additional costs for employers.

More than 1.4 million California workers had their pay raised to $8 an hour on Jan. 1, for the second time in 12 months. Up from $6.75 a year ago, the minimum wage was raised due to a mandated increase from the state legislature.

Some local businesses say that the increased wages will mean fewer profits and will cause them to pass the cost on to their customers.

"Prices have to go up," said Mary Grieves, daytime manager for DiNapoli's Firehouse.

Many of the restaurant's 20 to 30 waitstaff and dishwashers earn minimum wage plus tips. Grieves said that the restaurant absorbed the extra costs during the first increase earlier last year, but the seasonal slowdown in business and higher prices for supplies will force it to raise menu prices.

She said that because of the overall rising costs, workers are more likely to be sent home towards the end of their shift as fewer diners come in.

"(The minimum wage increase) just makes the employers think a bit more about personnel costs," she said.

Some employees applaud the increase but say that $8 is still not enough to live on, yet alone support a family.

Mark Mullenix, a manager at Carl's Jr., said that he scrapes by supporting just himself on the $9.50 an hour he earns and is unsure how his coworkers earning the minimum wage make ends meet.

"They're surviving but just barely," he said. "How can people live on $8 an hour? I probably could, but it would be real close."

He said that the higher wage is better but isn't enough to live on. He said he'd like to see a minimum wage of $14 an hour but acknowledged that prices would likely increase in turn.

Marcia Bond, newly-elected president of the Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce, said that she hasn't heard many complaints from employers about the wage hike.

"It's only twenty dollars a week per employee. I don't think it'll have a big impact," she said. "When you look at all the franchise restaurants in Barstow, they have to be doing well."

She said that at the Hampton Inn in Lenwood, which she manages, employees aren't affected by the increase because they earn more than the minimum already. She said that smaller businesses will be the most affected.

"They increase the minimum wage, and everything else goes up," said Janice Miller, owner of The Cake Shop Bakery, which employs eight.

She said that although her workforce isn't affected by the increase, her costs for cake mixes, flour and other ingredients rise as manufacturers' employees receive raises.

"It's not a whole lot, but it all adds up," she said.

The city's Economic Development Director Ron Rector said that he thinks that the rising wages and increased prices will offset each other.

"I think it's kind of a wash," he said.

He expects that employees in retail, fast food and service-related jobs in Barstow will benefit from the increased wage and said that businesses have likely already factored in the extra costs into their prices.

He said that the county considers $10 an hour to be a living wage, allowing employees to be financially self-sufficient. Below that level, many workers are forced to take second jobs to make ends meet, he said.

Rector said the solution to increasing Barstow residents' income levels is to bring more jobs in the logistics and manufacturing fields to the city, which pay $30,000 to $40,000 annually. He said he'd prefer to leave minimum-wage to part-time, non-career employees.

"That way we can allow high schools, college students and seniors to get fun money from these entry-level jobs," he said.

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