At Mt. Tabor Brewing Company’s pub in Felida, 10 of the 21 workers are getting a raise effective Jan. 1. They’ll see their hourly rate bumped from $12 to $13.50, thanks to Initiative 433, passed by Washington voters in 2016.
Mt. Tabor is just one of more than 260 restaurants or grocery stores in Clark County having to adapt the new wage increases. Although the law applies to all businesses, the food-service industry and retail stores are likely going to be hit harder, according to Scott Bailey, regional economist for the state Employment Security Department.
Eric Surface opened Mt. Tabor in Portland in 2010 and expanded first to a tiny brewpub in downtown Vancouver before opening the full-service Felida location, 3600 N.W. 119th St., in 2017. Now Surface and other entrepreneurs are looking at how to absorb the greater labor costs. One possibility is to scale back workers’ hours.
“It will feel like people will make more money,” he said, speaking of the industry in general. “Everybody will start scaling back hours, and the next thing you know, you’re making the same amount of money.”
And not only will direct labor costs increase, so will overhead costs as suppliers pass on their increased labor costs.