With the federal election around the corner, penalty rates are a hot topic as Gilmore residents debate whether they will boost or bust the region.
New modelling from The McKell Institute, founded by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews MP, examined the impact of the two major parties' penalty rate policies and found workers in the electorate of Gilmore would receive $18.9 million more pay under a Labor government.
The Labor party has promised to increase penalty rates within the first 100 days of office, with the Coalition poised to keep the current rate.
Worker at the Bake House in Nowra, Jessie Sharp, said she used to rely on penalty rates to make up her paycheck and cover university costs.
"The penalty rates used to be very helpful," Ms Sharp said.
"It's hard to get Sunday work and you can't count on it."
Owner of the Deli on Kinghorne in Nowra, Tonya Hughes, said penalty rates were never fully removed.
"I pay my adult staff $24.34 per hour on weekdays, $29 on Saturdays and $34 on Sundays, as far as I'm concerned that's penalty rates," Ms Hughes said.
"If the rate goes up, I'll have to cut shifts."
Ms Hughes said her biggest cost was staff.
The cafe owner pays between $7000 and $8000 in wages every week.
"If the cost goes up, [hiring more staff] won't be viable in any shape or form," Ms Hughes said.
"The penalty rate increase won't have any positive impact on the economy."
Acting chief executive of the McKell Institute, James Pawluk, said the penalty rates would be beneficial to the community.
"Pretty much all of this $18.9 million would be pumped straight back into the Gilmore economy under Labor's policy, because people who earn Sunday penalty rates are overwhelmingly likely to spend them locally," Mr Pawluk said.