Another year, another set of minimum wage hikes.
As Americans count down the days until President-elect Donald Trump is sworn into office, many states are working to combat the Republican agenda, specifically when it comes to controlling their state minimum wage requirements. As the calendar turned to 2017, Massachusetts claimed the highest state minimum wage in the country following a $1 increase from $10 to $11 an hour, which went into effect on Sunday.
While the boost in pay have helped some in the Commonwealth pay for bills, gas, food, etc., small business owners are feeling the pinch — and some workers are losing their jobs or seeing reductions in hours.
According to The Boston Globe:
The owner of two family entertainment centers in Massachusetts said she has reduced her staff to 20 people, down from 50, over the past two years, to counteract rising payroll costs.
The employer, who asked not to be named because she feared repercussions from workers’ advocates, said she and her husband have cut their hours of operation, replaced their DJ with canned music, and are working more themselves to stay afloat. They have also stopped hiring teenagers in favor of more experienced workers.
Marc Wallerce of Winthrop Marketplace estimated his payroll will have risen over $100,000 over the course of three wage increases, which include insurance and workers’ compensation costs. Wallerce said he hasn’t cut any of his 60-person staff, but he’s definitely feeling the pressure.
As the voices of Democrats and income inequality advocates thanks to the Fight for $15 movement grow louder to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, many believe economies will collapse and unemployment will rise, especially among millennials.
“I just think $15 is just something the Massachusetts economy, even inside 495, can’t handle,” Bill Vernon, Massachusetts director of the National Federation of Independent Business, told the Globe. “It will help some people, but it will cost jobs… And it’s the young, unskilled workers who are going to get hurt by this.”
What good is a higher wage if there’s a greater risk you can lose your job?
In an interview with Red Alert Politics, Jeremy Adler of AR Squared said he believes the Fight for $15 movement is not a campaign by and for workers, but a big labor funded effort designed to boost their depleted membership rolls.
“It’s very clear that all this policy would do is eliminate jobs and make it tougher for workers to find employment opportunities.” Adler told Red Alert. “These minimum wage hikes on the backs of employers are devastating to local economies. Small businesses have made it clear that these increases make it much more difficult for them to hire, grow, and expand. Studies have shown that a federal $15 minimum wage would eliminate 7 million jobs which would have severe economic ramifications at all levels.”
When asked what Republicans and conservatives should do to counter the Fight for $15 movement, Adler said, “Republicans can and do support workers earning more and increasing wages, but it should not be done artificially through government mandates. There are ideas out there like an Earned Income Tax Credit or Marco Rubio’s wage enhancement proposal, but all would be better than a government-imposed minimum wage hike which would burden the private sector and eliminate job opportunities from people that need them the most.”