WARREN - Minimum wage earners in Ohio will see a slight increase in their paychecks in 2014.
Beginning in January, the new minimum wage for non-tipped employees will be $7.95 an hour, a dime increase, and tipped employees will get a 5 cent bump, taking their hourly wage to $3.98.
The increase will impact small and mom-and-pop-style operations most, says Ohio's Chamber of Commerce, which is cause for concern for the business advocacy group that came out against the 2006 constitutional amendment that compels the annual increases.
Labor advocates say the increase is a ''step in the right direction'' toward livable wages.
Meanwhile, some local business owners are divided on whether they'll feel the change.
Sean Chichelli, director of labor and human resources policy of the Ohio Chamber, said it believes the increase ''disproportionately'' impacts small businesses, which are ''least able to absorb labor costs'' and ''more sensitive to changes in the cost of business.''
Ohio's minimum wage will increase in January
Non-tipped employees - $7.85 an hour
Tipped employees - $3.93 an hour
Non-tipped employees - $7.95 an hour
Tipped employees - $3.98 an hour
''One of the main concerns is the effect on small business because they are more prone to be affected by a government mandate like this,'' Chichelli said. ''Our preference is to let the market set the wages and not necessarily by government mandates.''
Also, Chichelli said, the minimum-wage increase is ''just another factor'' businesses have to be aware of in a tough economy that includes uncertainty about the new federal health care law and the federal budget.
Mike Gillis, spokesman for the Ohio AFL-CIO, said the 2006 law that took ''the issue out of the hands of politicians'' tied it ''directly to the market'' is a ''step in the right direction,'' but still falls short when it comes to providing affordability for basic needs.
''Anybody that works full-time and works hard deserves to be paid a livable wage,'' Gillis said Monday.
The amendment voters passed in 2006 calls for Ohio's minimum wage to increase on Jan. 1 of each year by the rate of inflation. The state minimum wage is tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for urban wage earners and clerical workers for the 12-month period before September. The CPI rose 1.5 percent from Sept. 1, 2012 to Aug. 31, 2013.
The amendment also calls for wage rates of non-tipped employees to be rounded to the nearest 5 cents.
The 2013 minimum wage in Ohio applies to employees of businesses with annual gross receipts of more than $288,000 a year. For employees of smaller companies and for 14-and-15-year-olds, Ohio's minimum wage is tied to the federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour. For it to change, a measure must be passed by Congress and signed by the President.
Tom Ross, owner of the newly opened The Limetree Sandwich Gallery on Courthouse Square in Warren, said the wage increase won't impact his business because he already pays employees more than the state minimum.
So, too, does Marty Cohen, owner of Mickey's Army Navy of Main Avenue S.W., because of the nature of the goods he sells - military surplus, camping and law enforcement and other like items and clothing - requires a certain level of technical expertise.
But Cohen said he can see the concern raised by Richard Kolovich, owner of ACE Hardware in Newton Falls, who said starting new employees out at a higher wage may limit raises he can give to existing employees.
''The only repercussion on that is the existing employees who have years in with you, it kind of limits them on growth in their paycheck,'' said Kolovich, who starts his employees at minimum wage. ''There is only so much money you have to work with. When you have new people and start them out at a higher rate like that, there's not room for, 'Hey, you're doing a good job, I'm going to give a 10-cent raise, I'm going to give you a 20-cent raise.' ''
This way, Kolovich said, the employees has an incentive to keep working hard and stay with the company.