Local business unsure about minimum wage hike

President Barack Obama laid out a plan in Tuesday’s State of the Union Address that would raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.

“A family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong,” said Obama.

Local business, though, isn’t so sure the proposal would pay off.

“Everybody, of course, would like to make more money, I included, and yourself as well. However, you have to figure out, where’s the money going to come from?” explained Bierstube manager Bob Rebitzer.

The proposal puts Rebitzer in a difficult position — trying to figure out how to charge customers the same prices, while he pays more himself.

“A product goes up, labor goes up, and eventually you have to say, ‘Well, the price of beer or the price of a sandwich has to go up accordingly.’ So, it would just be passed on. That’s where it gets difficult,” said Rebitzer.

The complications only increase when you run a business on both sides of the river. Illinois’ minimum wage is already a dollar higher than Iowa’s, and a plan from Governor Pat Quinn would raise Illinois’ minimum wage past that $9 mark to $10.

“Some of them will tell you, it makes it easier to make the decision to add another operation in the Iowa Quad Cities, rather than the Illinois Quad Cities. Well, that’s not what we want. We are hoping to have really extraordinary growth and vibrant opportunities in all of our Quad Cities,” said Quad Cities’ Chamber of Commerce CEO Tara Barney.

Rebitzer also says you may find a difference between his LeClaire, Iowa, and Moline, Illinois, locations.

“Some of the products that we sell, some of the menu items, they’re actually a slightly higher price in Illinois, just from the fact that the minimum wage is a little higher,” said Rebitzer.

For workers, it means a bigger paycheck could simply equal a pricier bill.