Despite looming minimum-wage increases, relatively few San Diego County businesses see a benefit in cutting their employees’ work weeks to 30 hours, according to a recent survey.
Nearly half (47 percent) of those surveyed by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce indicated scaling back to 30 hours would hurt their bottom line. The concern about taking that step was most pronounced among large firms, while micro firms with just one employee saw cutting hours as having no significant impact, the chamber reported Oct. 28.
But among companies saying they will be challenged by minimum wage increases kicking in Jan. 1, 28 percent saw reducing employees’ schedules to 30 hours per week as a viable option.
The variety of responses may stem from different perceptions about employees being overworked. Fully 55 percent of the 203 randomly selected companies rated their workers as being at least somewhat overworked, with 15 percent indicating their employees were very or extremely overworked. No retailers reported viewing their staff as overworked.
The chamber asked about staffing options because of pending minimum wage hikes. Come Jan. 1, the city of San Diego will require companies to pay no less than $11.50 per hour, up $1 from the current floor. Elsewhere in the county, the rate will increase from $10 an hour to $11.
Otherwise, the monthly survey sponsored by Silvergate Bank found business optimism was slightly improved from a month before. The chamber’s Business outlook Index rose about 1 point to 16.8 from last month’s historical bottom. That suggests optimism is still positive, because zero represents a neutral outlook.
The chamber noted optimism among transportation and automotive companies dropped into negative territory in the most recent survey, and that home and garden businesses have also become less optimistic.
These sectors where optimism has faded most noticeably are not generally considering layoffs but rather offering fewer hours to their employees, the chamber reported.
“For the sixth consecutive month we see concerns about an increasing minimum wage straining businesses and stifling optimism,” Chamber President and CEO Jerry Sanders said in a news release. “This is why we educate our legislators about how these regulations affect our local businesses.”