MARIETTA - With the new year came an increase in the minimum wage in Ohio.
The minimum wage increased 10 cents to $7.95 an hour, as mandated by a 2006 amendment to the Ohio Constitution which links minimum wage to inflation.
Many area businesses are feeling a slight crunch because more money is coming out of the budget.
Area McDonald's franchise owner Laurie Strahler said each year, the effects of the minimum wage increase can be felt, but that this year it was a little too early to judge how it would impact her businesses.
"We have a number of employees raised (to the new minimum)," she said. "It's kind of the cost of doing business."
Strahler said in the past, employee hours had been cut slightly to make up for the pay increase.
Ohio's Minimum Wage
* 1992-2006: $4.25 (with a lower rate for businesses with an annual revenue under $500,000).
* 2007: $6.85.
* 2008: $7.
* 2009: $7.30.
* 2010: $7.30.
* 2011: $7.40.
* 2012: $7.70.
* 2013: $7.85.
* 2014: $7.95.
"(The wage increase) comes at a time when business is slower," she said. "It's winter. We may not need as many hours (for employees)."
Strahler said she was making no hasty decisions in regards to staff cuts or price increases.
"We aren't going to cut staff," Strahler said. "I will wait and see what we're going to do."
Marietta's Warren's IGA is also being impacted by the minimum wage increase.
Manager Mike Morrison said the only raises made at the start of the new year were for those making the minimum. He said while the rise this year is small, in years past it's been quite a lot.
"This year it's just a dime," he said. "It's not a major increase. From ($4.25) to where it is now over the last (several) years, it's a pretty healthy jump."
Morrison said no decisions had been made on offsetting the cost of labor with shorter hours or increased prices.
"For a small business, it continues to be something that's hard to deal with," he said. "We're looking right now at operating expenses from every manageable way we can. Labor is our No. 1 operating expense."
Businesses across Ohio have been dealing with increased labor costs for the past eight years. With the 2006 amendment, 12 years of stagnant $4.25 minimum wages ended, and businesses can expect wage increases to continue each year.
Sylvi Caporale, owner of American Flags and Poles, supports the minimum wage increase.
"We're always excited to provide more for our team," Caporale said, adding that raises would be given regardless of a state mandate.
The increase in wages doesn't cause Caporale any concern.
"You know that you have to make revenue somehow," she said. "We have to be more efficient and increase sales. When buying and making purchases we have to be cautious and make sure we can have a good value for the customer and profitability for the store."