Mid-July 2019 draft
I recently met a fellow who adamantly claims that when minimum wages rise, prices for everything else will almost immediately double. I think he should do a little fact-checking. First, companies generally don’t want to drive themselves out of business. Prices for some businesses where lots of workers would be paid the new $12 an hour are more apt to raise their charges of some items by 5 to 10%, if at all.* Second; food, rent and utility costs didn’t double in any of the other 29 states who raised their minimums.
It’s disappointing that instead of determining ways to encourage workers to use more empowerment, innovation, imagination and teamwork, some employers in anticipation of the $12 raise are focusing their energy on exaggerating how much this will hurt them, while looking to cut benefits, trim work hours, and seek exceptions or loopholes. (I do agree that an immediate $15 an hour would injure some companies.)
Indeed, it’s less of a societal failure when more of our industry leaders embrace the concept that higher wages usuallytranslate into better worker pride, stability and increased loyalty. Employers will be less likely to see costly worker turnovers when their staff receives something approaching a living wage. Maintaining experienced employees with institutional memories saves on training costs, lessens work errors, reduces paperwork and makes for safer and improved work atmospheres.
Recently at my minimum wage workplace our paychecks were delayed due to an accounting error. For some this may seem like a minor nuisance, but for many of us, our anxiety level rose with the continuing uncertainty of when we might be paid. Concerned work colleagues started canceling weekend plans and worried about late charges for utilities, which affects credit ratings, etc. (Fortunately our checks showed up in the nick of time.)
Many people who have neverexperienced being absolutely broke don’t realize how significant a difference it is between having $300 versus owning next to nothing. Everything comes to a standstill. Suddenly, fractured again and stigmatized, we don’t have enough to buy toothpaste and Raman noodles, and we ponder for hours on our day off whether to do laundry or save the last coins for work-bus fare. The minimum wage raise will help immensely with our efforts to get unstuck.