Del. minimum wage poised to rise, business owners talk impact
DELAWARE – It’s official. By 2025, all employers in Delaware must pay their staff at least $15 an hour. As it stands, Delaware’s minimum wage is $9.25 an hour. But the local business community says many local workers are already making that coveted cash. “I think this tight labor market has pushed everybody towards that number. So, I can’t imagine that there’s anybody out there that isn’t already being paid $13 or $14 an hour for jobs that would traditionally pay $10 or $11 an hour,” said Owner of Rosenfeld’s Jewish Delicatessen Warren Rosenfeld.
In fact, the Rehoboth Beach Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce says they stand against increasing the wage. They say that’s because with a raise in minimum wage could come a raise in consumer prices. Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Carrie Lingo says that has a trickle down effect. “Let the market dictate the values because most of the restaurants and the business owners will confirm that if you did just go with minimum wage they wouldn’t have any employees,” said Lingo.
Rosenfeld says the wage raise could turn into what he calls a “tightrope act” for businesses balancing higher wages and the current labor shortage. “Everybody wants everybody to make enough money to live. But at the same time, customers and consumers have to understand that they’re going to pay higher prices,” said Rosenfeld. “At some point, consumers aren’t going to be willing to pay for a $20 sandwich. So, you have to pick and choose what you’re going to increase, and when you’re going to increase it.”
Plus, Rosenfeld says it’s important to remember that a so called “living wage” isn’t a static thing. “I think a living wage is, in a way, a temporary thing. Does that mean that two years from now wages go up again and $17 is seen as acceptable and not $15? We’ll have to decide that,” said Rosenfeld.
Senate Bill 15, which raises the wage, rules that it must be no less than $10.50 an hour by January 1st 2022. After that, the wage is required to go up to $11.75 an hour by 2023, then $13.25 an hour by 2024, and finally, $15 an hour by 2025.