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Chiefs cook a meal at a restaurant inside a shopping mall in a wealthy district in Beijing February 25, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon Chiefs cook a meal at a restaurant inside a shopping mall in a wealthy district in Beijing February 25, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon  

Businesses: Seattle’s proposed $15 minimum wage would hurt immigrants

A coalition of minority business owners is warning Seattle residents that if the city dramatically hikes the minimum wage, immigrants will be the first to lose jobs.

In a letter directed to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, the group of multicultural small business owners explained that the proposed $15 minimum wage would prove devastating to both employers and multicultural employees.

“The financial cost to our businesses will be staggering, considering our low profit margins and the proposed 40 percent increase in wages — without factoring payroll taxes and compensations,” read the letter.

They added that their main concern was not about their own bottom line, but the impact the wage hikes would have on the immigrants who depend on their businesses for jobs.

“Large portions of our staffs are immigrant workers. These are people who come to this country with very little skill or English proficiency. They arrive at our various businesses seeking jobs because we provide a landing zone for them to get their foot in the door and learn valuable skills,” the coalition explained.

The business owners lamented that if a $15 minimum wage became a reality in Seattle, they would be forced to cut jobs that typically go to low-skill immigrant workers and hire high-skilled workers instead.

A local Seattle news outlet, KIRO 7, found that if this is true, it could potentially have a large impact on Seattle’s population.

According to the outlet’s findings, immigrants and refugees make up 19 percent of the state’s population – and that number is growing.

Nick Reing, a general manager at one of Barrio Mexican Kitchen’s Seattle locations, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that a $15 minimum wage would put the chain’s survival into question.

“In the restaurant business, it is a game of pennies. A good restaurant makes nine cents on the dollar — it would be cost prohibitive for us to do that. It would essentially put all eight of our restaurants out of business,” he explained to TheDCNF.

“Everyone is in the mode of denial, but if it does go through I can imagine that many restaurants would immediately have to shut their doors,” he said. “The labor costs would be crippling.”

Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, a self-proclaimed Socialist, is one of the leading voices behind the push to raise Seattle’s minimum wage from $9.19 to $15 an hour.

Over the past several months, Sawant has worked with labor activist groups to increase pressure on Mayor Murray to implement the wage hike without exceptions or delays.

If the mayor does not agree to make the changes himself, Sawant and $15 minimum wage supporters have promised to put the initiative on the November ballot.

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