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Fifty-five percent of respondents to this week's RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll favor an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, up from the current minimum of $7.25, which has been in effect since July 2009. But 19 percentage points of the support is qualified by a requirement that the hike be paired with tax relief for small businesses.
Legislation sponsored in the Senate by Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and in the House by George Miller, D-Calif., would raise the minimum wage in three steps of 95 cents each over a two-year period. It then would be indexed to inflation.
The last increase in the federal minimum wage included tax-relief provisions for small businesses designed to offset the impact of the wage increase, and similar provisions reportedly might be part of new legislation.
An increase in New York's minimum wage was approved this year. It will rise from $7.25 to $8 an hour on Dec. 31, $8.75 on Dec. 31, 2014, and $9 on Dec. 31, 2015.
As in the past, supporters of increasing the federal minimum wage say it is both a matter of fairness-the current wage translates into an annual income below the poverty level for a family of three-and sound economics, because low-income workers spend a larger percentage of their pay than higher earners. Opponents contend that an increase would raise small-business costs and reduce employment, thus doing more harm than good for the people it is designed to help.
When a similar question was asked last winter, Snap Poll respondents narrowly opposed an increase in the state's minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.75, by 52 percent to 48 percent. Among business owners with employees earning the current minimum wage, 57 percent opposed an increase.
Roughly 775 readers participated in this week's poll, conducted Dec. 16 and 17.
Do you support or oppose increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10?
Support, but only if paired with tax-relief provisions for small businesses: 19%
This will only be another federal law that will create unintended consequences that will be dealt with later by the private sector.
—Sam Messer, Applied Measurement & Controls Inc.
Absolutely not! A hike in the minimum wage should only be considered if the government desires to further cripple the economy and increase unemployment, especially among younger and minority workers. Come to think of it, how well did the last increase work? As the government artificially raises the cost of labor for businesses, particularly small businesses, these companies cannot afford the extra cost unless they raise their prices. This dampens demand, which slows production, which affects all companies participating in that supply chain, further slowing the economy. If the federal or state governments really want to make people wealthier via intervention in the labor market, they should raise the minimum wage to $10,000 per hour. They can then pat themselves on the back for “doing something” and watch what happens to the economy.
—Bill Simpson, Irondequoit
This would be devastating to the economy and would have very counterproductive unintended consequences.
Why isn’t there a minimum wage for younger than 18 and older than 18?
According to the Congressional Research Service, which serves the U.S. Congress, the minimum wage would have to reach $10.77 today to match the buying power of the minimum wage in 1968. I support raising the minimum wage. The current rate is out of date.
—Carolyn Phinney Rankin, president, Phinney Rankin Inc.
Not only will a nearly 40 percent rise in the minimum wage increase small-business costs, it will also pressure up all wages, driving up inflation and thereby defeating its proposed purpose of providing a living wage. It’s called a minimum wage for a reason. Individuals must develop greater than minimum job skills to avoid trying to live at minimum wage.
There is a myth that raising the minimum wage improves the economic circumstances of those who are unskilled or students. A higher minimum wage leads to higher unemployment, which is already disastrous in inner cities, and less opportunity for precisely the people it purportedly helps. A higher minimum wage also automatically drives up the wages of union members (who always want to raise the wage floor) who have contracts tied to the minimum wage, thus making overseas manufacturing and service options even more attractive, thereby reducing the number of better-paying union jobs. Raising the minimum wage is just politicians pandering to populist themes, “just give ’em bread and circus,” for re-election.
—Luis A. Martinez
The facts do not demonstrate that raising the minimum wage will hurt “business.” What is evident is the growing disparity between the “working poor” and the affluent/super-rich. Do we pay a higher minimum wage just “to be nice”? No. We do it for the greater good and, as Henry Ford taught us, every family will have the money to buy our (businesses’) products?
I do not believe we should “legislate” what the market should dictate. If one does not want to work for the current minimum wage, he/she is free to do what they want. We all know that those paying will raise their product/service offering to compensate for the rise in wages. What has anybody gained?
—J.A. DePaolis, Penfield
Another feel-good “fairness” idea. The problem with all of the fairness ideas is that they have to ignore logic to be accepted. The unintended consequences do more harm than the good that comes from the law. Raising minimum wage feels good but leads to more unemployment among the poorest in our society. Young blacks are hurt the worst because entry-level jobs are eliminated. The argument that you can’t support a family of three is specious. If you have to support a family of three, you need to upgrade your skills to get a better-paying job. Plus, our welfare system doubles the effective income of this mythical family of three with food stamps, etc.
This year: $10.10; $15.20 next year; $20.30 the next. Who will fill all the empty storefronts along with all the empty factories? The answer: Amazon, shipped in from China and Indo-China. Let the free market determine wages, please.
—Bruce Anderson, Alpha & Omega Parable Christian Stores
Since we already have a minimum wage, fine. But leave it where it is. It’s only supposed to be an entry-level wage for unskilled workers. Workers get paid better as they gain skills and prove themselves, and if they don’t, they leave. Let the market work!
—George Thomas, Ogden
If it makes economic sense to increase the minimum wage to $10.10, then it makes even more sense to raise it to $25.10 or $100.10. On the other hand, if raising the minimum now puts low-wage earners over the minimum that qualifies them for other government benefits, we need to understand that there may be no reason to keep those government workers that implement those programs. Get my drift?
A higher minimum wage (means) fewer entry-level jobs. What we need is jobs. What the poor and the young of America need are entry-level jobs. The best way to get more entry-level jobs for the poor and the young is with a low minimum wage. With these entry-level jobs, the poor and the young can learn the skills for higher-paying jobs. The two key determinants to lift people out of poverty are to finish high school and to get married before having children. The key determinant is not a higher minimum wage. The majority of workers at minimum wage jobs are middle-class children working for a few extra dollars. A higher minimum wage would be a benefit for the middle class, more than those in poverty. I spoke with a business owner once who said that he would never hire an employee at minimum wage because from day one, that employee would be looking for a higher-paying job.
—Clifford Jacobson M.D., Vanguard Psychiatric Services P.C.
The net result of a minimum wage is the killing of jobs. Isn’t it better to subsidize the difference through food stamps and housing grants? Once people lose their job, then all of their costs have to be subsidized. Further, there is no dignity in living off of the government. Finally, why a federal minimum wage? Is the cost of living in Monroe County (winter clothing, heat, parking, etc.) the same as Lee County, Florida, where people can ride their bike to work every day of the year? A very inconvenient fact is that the cost of living is not even close to being the same across our very large country.
—Jerry Lighthouse, C.P.M., CPIM Advanced Purchasing Technology LLC
This is a perfect example of economically ignorant and dishonest politicians destroying what is meant for entry-level jobs. Basic economics proves that if the cost of doing business rises, expenses have to be cut, therefore less hiring. The free market should set wages in a business, not “well-meaning masterminds.” Haven’t we seen enough unintended consequences from these people trying to manipulate the economy?
—Todd Black, Black’s Hardware