Gov. Raimondo proposes minimum wage increase to $11.10 an hour

By: Amanda Pitts

alpitts@abc6.com

@APittsABC6

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Minimum wage workers in Rhode Island might soon get another bump in their paycheck.

Governor Gina Raimondo, in her State of the State address Tuesday, proposed raising the minimum wage from $10.50 to $11.10. Just a few weeks ago, on January 1st, minimum wage increased from $10.10 to $10.50. 

“The ink hasn’t yet dried from the last minimum wage increase, and here we are proposing another one.”

Chris Carlozzi from the National Federation of Independent Business in Rhode Island thinks another increase so soon is a death sentence to mom and pop shops.

“For small businesses, labor cost increases always hit them the hardest.”

He said businesses will have to make some tough decisions to stay afloat, like reducing employee hours, laying off workers, or closing for good.

“One thing you don’t want to see here in Rhode Island is dark storefronts,” said Carlozzi.

At the popular Providence gift shop, Frog and Toad, owner Asher Schofield is for the increase.

“We can’t have people working 40 hours a week and being unable to live above the poverty line.”

He says consumers should expect for stores to get a little pricier, but it’s worth it to keep small business in the state.

“Are we willing to pay a little bit more? One would hope that the average consumer would be understanding of that, and still feel compelled to support all of these locally owned independent businesses.”

Schofield does worry about the bigger picture, and that the rise in wages could hurt young people just entering the workforce.

He helps run Hope Works, a program to connect inner-city youth with paying jobs in Providence. Students work in two-month increments, getting paid minimum wage.

“It’s a great program. My concern is that by increasing minimum wage, it could jeopardize businesses participating somewhat.”

Raimondo said the proposed increase is to keep up with states like Massachusetts, which is at a minimum wage of $12 an hour. Her goal is to eventually reach a $15 minimum wage in Rhode Island.

(c) WLNE-TV 2019