GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — New Michigan laws go into effect this year. Starting Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, Michigan's minimum wage jumps up to $9.87 an hour.
Capriotti's on 28th street is where people stop to grab a bite to eat.
"We're pretty much not a full-service restaurant; [what] we make are predominately sandwiches, but we make them all from scratch," Capriotti Owner Trevor Hall said.
Hall finds himself picking up shifts normally done by his employees. Like many, he's struggling to get people in the door for the hourly rates he can afford.
"$11 or $12 an hour. Now, with any experience, then it goes up higher than that. But to offer just minimum wage, we can't have it. We won't get employees," Hall told FOX 17.
Michiganders are seeing the third minimum wage increase since the Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act of 2018. The rate is set to go up as long as we stay below the 8.5% unemployment rate.
In 2021 we were above that margin, so the minimum wage never increased. Since we're below that unemployment number, and if we stay there, we could see $12.05 by 2031.
"It wasn't originally put in to be a living wage or anything like that. It just really was to help provide a baseline for people to understand what wages should be paid," Grand Valley State University Seidman College of Business Associate Dean Paul Isely told FOX 17. "So, everything that we're seeing now, we've never seen before. The design of the minimum wage program in Michigan never foresaw the increase in inflation."
"Can we keep this up?"
"I've been saying the '20s would be the decade of labor that we really expected [...] because of demographics that... that the number of young people coming into the workforce. And they're not all of the minimum wage people, but there is a large chunk of the minimum wage people would be shrinking and shrinking and shrinking now, until the end of this decade," Isley said.
A shrinking workforce is causing ripple effects. Hall says the prices at his shop are going up.
"The first December, my prices went up. And that was just to maintain what I have and to be able to offer them a little bit more," Hall added.
Tipped employees also saw a bump in pay of $3.75 an hour.