Lincoln business believes minimum wage increase could benefit everyone

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Nebraska workers making less than $15 an hour will be seeing a pay bump in the near future.

But what do businesses think of this new wage increase?

Initiative 433 was approved by more than 58% of voters across the state and will incrementally increase wages by $1.50 every year starting in 2023 until it hits $15 in 2026.

After that, the yearly wage increase will be adjusted with the cost of living.

Steph Terry, director of operations and human relations for Morrow Collision Center, said this is something that could benefit everyone.

“We’ve found that over the years, paying our employees a fair wage just increases their quality of work,” she said. “It makes them more loyal to us as a company and it also just increases morale. It also helps our employees stick around a lot longer.”

Terry said they had to raise their wages a while ago and they’re already hiring above the $15 mark.

She said to get skilled workers, you have to have competitive wages.

“We just can’t sit around and wait and hope that qualified candidate interviews with us and accept positions,” she said. “We kind of had to bite the bullet early on and decide to make that wage increase beforehand.”

Bob Hallstrom, a small business owner and the state director of government relations for the National Federation of Independent Business, opposes the bill.

He said NFIB believes the initiative can be problematic for inexperienced workers because, with the pay hike, some businesses may have more qualified employees who apply.

“We’re probably going to see most of the effect on high school and college students who are entering the job market, looking for their first job and perhaps getting started with a lower wage that allows the businesses to employ them in the first place,” Hallstrom said.

Initiative 433 was put on the ballot after 160,000 people signed the petition.

The incremental increases are intended to give businesses time to adapt.

Terry said it’s a big change for some small businesses, but it may end up benefiting them in the long run.

“I truly feel that Lincoln overall is going to be a better city to live in,” Terry said. “People will have more expendable income. They’ll be able to go out in our city and dine out or go to events because they will be making a higher wage. They’ll just be able to support their families better.”

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