A recent column on attempts to increase the minimum wage through ballot initiatives clearly roused both sides in the debate over how and how much the pay levels of restaurant employees should be raised. The opinion piece became one of our best-read online postings and drew considerable feedback, some of which we’re posting here to keep the dialogue going.
We encourage you to join the conversation by adding your comments and opinions. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Minimum wage momentum is fueled by the facts
From Jack Temple, a policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project:
Over the past year, a record number of states and cities have taken action to raise the minimum wage. These long-overdue wage increases have won support in both “red” and “blue” parts of the country, and have passed with the shared backing of workers and businesses alike.
In fact, a virtual consensus exists today in support of raising the minimum wage, which would not be possible if, as Mr. Romeo suggests, voters were simply responding to an “urban myth” about the challenges facing low-wage workers. To the contrary, it’s a testament to just how clear that facts have become that workers, businesses, and voters across the country now agree that raising the minimum wage is a top-tier priority for boosting the economy.
It’s important to look at the whole picture when considering the impact of raising the minimum wage. While it’s true that those earning exactly $7.25 per hour tend to be younger, increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would raise pay for 28 million workers earning between $7.25 and $10.10 (and likely some earning just over $10.10, as employers adjust their pay scales upward).
U.S. Census Bureau data confirm the following facts about workers who would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour:
- 88 percent are adults over the age of twenty – not teenagers, as many opponents of raising the minimum wage suggest;
- The average worker contributes nearly half of his or her family’s entire income, meaning that those who would benefit from raising the minimum wage are not working for side-money but in fact are breadwinners their households;
- Over 14 million children – nearly one out of every five children in the U.S. – have at least one parent who would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.
Indeed, it’s precisely because so many workers and their families now rely on low-wage jobs to make ends meet that growing numbers of small business owners – including those in the restaurant industry –have started to support raising the minimum wage. After all, when workers do not earn enough to afford the basics, consumer spending plummets, draining the economy of the demand it needs to grow.
A poll released by Small Business Majority in March of this year found that 57 percent of small business owners support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, and that 52 percent of small business owners agree that increasing the minimum wage would boost consumer demand, helping them grow and hire.
The facts are clear: raising the minimum wage is a win-win for workers and businesses alike – it’s those who continue to oppose raising the minimum wage that have rested their case on a myth.
From Aftan Romanczak:
Unfortunately, the public won't realize what they have approved in wage hikes until they see the price inflation on menus because operators will not absorb the cost increase. They also don't realize that if the minimum wage is $15.00, every employee above that rate must be moved up incrementally.
You should all be ashamed of yourselves. The government is involved because you are too greedy to pay a living wage. I hope fast food prices skyrocket and you all go broke.
From Tim Borden:
Be careful what you wish for, consumers!
If the public votes in favor of these wage hikes, what you will see is restaurants do either or both of the following: Replace servers with tablets, or add a service fee to the check ( replacing the tip) and the restaurant controls the fee and distributes the monies as they see fit. Restaurants can't pay servers $15 and have them make $ 200 a night while the back of the house gets paid way less. [It] can't happen.
Putting the minimum wage to a vote is like asking the foxes if they want to the door to the chicken coop left open. Why is government involved in the business of setting wages for private industry?