On July 29, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he will not pause the state minimum wage increase scheduled for January 2021, which will bring the hourly rate up to $13 per hour for companies with 25 or fewer employees and $14 per hour for companies with 26 or more employees.

“As we continue our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, we must also ensure that as our economy recovers, all Californians can benefit in its growth,” Newsom said in a statement. “Not allowing this increase to go forward will only make life harder for those Californians who have already borne a disproportionate share of the economic hardship caused by this pandemic. Many of them are on the front lines of the pandemic, providing child care, working in our hospitals and nursing facilities and making sure there’s food on grocery store shelves.”

The minimum wage increase will become effective in January 1, 2021, but business leaders in Irvine say the timing for the minimum wage increase couldn’t be worse.

Considering the impact COVID-19 has had on the city’s unemployment, raising the minimum wage would place businesses at risk. The Orange County Business Council (OCBC) has asked the governor to partner with the business community during these unprecedented times.

In a statement, OCBC President and CEO Lucy Dunn said the Irvine-based council is disappointed in the governor’s move to not pause the minimum wage increase.

“We are sensitive to the concerns of supporting front-line workers across the state however, many small businesses are on the verge of collapse, struggling just to keep doors open, and a significant increase in operating costs will further push them towards closing permanently,” Dunn said. “Now is the time to rally behind small businesses in California, especially restaurants, who provide significant employment opportunities and are already struggling to keep up with COVID-19 regulations.”

While Orange County has reported a total of 36,196 COVID-19 cases, Irvine’s positivity rates remain the lowest in the county.