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photo credit: (Credit: Jose Manuel_)
Minimum wage workers in Santa Rosa will see a small bump in pay come January, as the second of several hikes takes affect. 
The slightly bigger paychecks are courtesy of Santa Rosa's city council which is raising the local minimum wage to $15.85 per hour.
Steve Levy is director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto.
"Do they make a difference? Probably $26 a week is not enough to help someone afford a house, but it is keeping pace with or more than keeping pace with inflation, and that was the idea of the minimum wage increases."
After a third phased increase, the local minimum wage will be linked to the cost of living.
Typically, minimum wage increases bring howls from business. Layoffs, automation and bankruptcy were claims heard by Kate Karniuochina, Dean of the Lorry I Lokey School of Business and Public Policy at Mills College, when she was hired to document impacts of a similar move six years ago in the Alameda County city of Emeryville.
According to Karniuochina, low-margin businesses suffer.
"The problem with the restaurants is that even though it looks like a pretty minor increase, but if you look at their cost structure, even minor increases at this point, I mean they're already losing money."
She said chains and franchises tend to survive, while independent eateries struggle.
But according to Levy, much has changed in the intervening years.
"You have Target and Walmart, Amazon, all pushing wages up to $15 minimum or above for the average, so these $15 dollar minimum wages by cities are right in line, or even under the market now."
Anticipating some issues, Santa Rosa has assembled online resources for firms that run into problems. Levy, however, doesn't foresee much disruption ahead.
"Certainly in the Bay Area there's no evidence that these increases have had a negative impact and they do help people, at the margins, with a few extra dollars a month."
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