$15 minimum wage forces Business to close in Seattle Increasing Unemployment

SEATTLE (KCPQ/CNN) – A pizza shop owner in Seattle says the city’s new minimum wage law is forcing her to close her doors.

The new law says businesses have six years to phase into giving employees $15 an hour.

Devin Jeran was happy to get a raise when Seattle’s minimum wage went up to $11 an hour at the beginning of the month.

“I definitely recognize that having more money is important, especially in a city as expensive as this one,” he said.

He’ll only enjoy that bigger paycheck for a few more months. In August, his boss is shutting down Z Pizza, putting him and his 11 coworkers out of work.

“Fortunately she keeps us in the loop, and didn’t just tell us last minute,” Jeran said.

Ritu Shah Burnham doesn’t want to go out of business, but says she can’t afford the city’s mandated wage hikes.

“I’ve let one person go since April 1, I’ve cut hours since April 1, I’ve taken them myself because I don’t pay myself. I’ve also raised my prices a little bit. Yeah, there’s no other way to do it,” she said.

Small businesses in the city have up to six more years to phase in the new $15 an hour minimum wage.

But Shah Burnham says even though she only has one store with 12 employees, she’s considered part of the Z Pizza franchise so she has to give raises in just two years.

“I know that I would have stayed here if I had seven years, just like everyone else, if I had an even playing field. The discrimination I’m feeling towards my small business right now makes me not want to stay and do anything in Seattle,” she said.

The director of Now Seattle, which rallied for the minimum wage, had no comment, only saying “Restaurants open and close all the time, for various reasons.”

Shah Burnham is concerned about where her employees will end up when she does close.

“I absolutely am terrified for them,” she said. “I have no idea where they’re going to find jobs, because if I’m cutting hours, I imagine everyone is across the board.”

Seattle is the first major city to pass a law that gives workers $15 an hour. It comes out to about $30,000 a year if an employee works full-time.

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