WENATCHEE — Confluence Health is increasing the minimum wage of its employees to $15 an hour starting Jan. 4.

The change will affect 1,200 of its employees, Confluence Health spokesperson Andrew Canning said. Its current minimum wage is set at the state minimum, which is $11.50.

About 450 of its employees will be moved up to the $15 minimum, but the company will also make changes to the wages of its employees slightly above $15.

“It is hard to live in Wenatchee for less than $15,” Canning said. “When we have these really talented health care folks who can make $15 at Dutch Bros, this was kind of the right step.”

The biggest reason for the company to make the change was to increase recruitment and retention of its employees, he said. The minimum wage in the state is also increasing to $13.50, so Confluence Health needs to stay competitive.

Confluence Health is one of Central Washington’s biggest employers with close to 4,000 employees.

The increase will likely have some sort of impact, said Donald Meseck, Washington Employment Security Department regional economist. People always experience trade offs when the minimum wages increases, though.

On the one hand companies may hire fewer people, he said. But on the other hand those whose salaries do increase will buy more goods and services.

“It is encouraging news,” Meseck said. “It is interesting there is a saying in economics ‘somebody always pays.’ So it is always a balance of the added buying power to the added costs of goods and services.