The Hunter’s low income workers are welcoming a boost to the minimum wage, but the business community is worried, it could slow things down coming out of the pandemic.

The Fair Work Commission announced on Wednesday, it would up wages by 5.2 percent, as well as award rates by 4.6 percent.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions called for a hike as high as 5.5 percent, while key business groups argued it couldn’t afford to be any higher than 2.5 to 3 percent.

Hunter Workers Secretary Leigh Shears says it’s a very welcome move.

“It’s an absolute sigh of relief,” he said. “It still falls short somewhat, but it could have been significantly worse.”

“A 5.2 percent increase is a historical moment and it is a win for working people.”

The same enthusiasm hasn’t been shared by the business community, where there’s concern it’s but another cost to cover. 

Business Hunter CEO Bob Hawes says workers deserve relief from cost-of-living pressures, but it will be another strain on local business.

“Rising costs of input, costs of energy going up, and a whole bunch of other things,” he said.

“In many cases, they haven’t been able to pass those costs on, so another cost impost like this might make it difficult.

“We just hope that it won’t result in having to put people off as a consequence.”

Unions say, however, it’s ultimately a win-win situation, and the money will circle back around to businesses.

“The important thing to remember is small businesses rely on people to have disposable income and to spend money in their shops,” Mr Shears said.

“There were some small businesses [on Wednesday] talking about the bulk of their customers are people on low income, so a boost to their wages is a boost to small business.”

For workers in aviation, tourism, and hospitality, the wage hike has been delayed until October 1.

Mr Hawes says there’s hope businesses will be able to find a stable footing before then.

“For those businesses that have suffered badly through COVID, it gives them a chance to take a breath and consider what these cost increases might be,” he said.

“There’s no doubt that giving money to those on lower incomes has a good pay packet effect – they get out there and spend.

“But obviously they’ve got challenges ahead of them in relation to increasing costs-of-living, and that won’t necessarily go back through retail or hospitality business.”