There has been increasing noise in Washington, Lansing and elsewhere about raising the minimum wage. In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for an increase and then launched executive action in doing what he could without legislative approval.
As you might expect, there has been heated discussions on both sides of this debate. Poll after poll shows most americans, as many as 75 percent, agree with raising the minimum wage, to $10.10 per hour.
The arguments for a minimum wage hike include attracting a better work force, therefore increasing productivity and essentially lowering business costs over the long run.
While we do see some logic in the historical context of raising the minimum, we cannot support a hike on either the state or national level.
It comes down to a matter of timing. The country in general and our state in particular is slowly climbing out of the worst economic climate since the Great Depression. We feel, because the recovery is still in its infancy, the burden on employers of raising the minimum wage may be too much to bear.
The increase is opposed by serveral business groups including the National Chamber of Commerce which called it a jobs killer.
Many economists agree raising the minimum won't lift those in poverty out of it and would shake an already fragile economy.
We feel there may be a time when a wage hike could be in order, but this is not that time ... not here, not now.
Small businesses, the most vital of all business sectors, would be hardest hit. These are companies that are still trying to come to grips with the effects of the Affordable Care Act. The one-two punch of Obamacare and a forced wage hike will be too much for many small businesses.
Look at it this way. Running several miles a day training for a Marathon certainly sounds like a good idea. It's healthy and the long-term effects might be positive.
But marathon training immediately after suffering a major heart attack, is not healthy and the effects could be deadly.
That is what we fear would be the results of increasing the minimum wage this early into our economic recovery. The pressure on small businesses would be too much to take.