In response to the letter to the editor in the Tuesday, Aug. 27, edition of The Standard, I would like to share my perspective.
Based on observation, the writer shares the opinion of many other consumers. What compelled me to speak up is that I do not feel this battle is being waged on the correct field.
Proponents of wage increases continue to point out a reported growth of distance between our nation’s most wealthy and most impoverished. While that distance may be growing, it has little to do with this issue. Minimum wage workers have never been a part of the “shrinking” middle class.
The primary focus should be on the employers that commonly utilize minimum-wage roles to service the demands of their customers. The fact is small business owners have the largest percentage of their employees in minimum wage roles than any other employment sector. Keep in mind, many McDonald’s restaurants are franchises owned by…small business owners. Nearly one out of five American workers is employed by an organization of less than 20 total employees. One out of two workers is employed by organizations with few than 500 employees. These are certainly not huge corporations with deep pockets. Further, those that are in minimum wage paying roles within huge corporations are inherently exposed to development and promotional opportunities. So, the argument should be based, not on whether highly-paid CEOs and mega-corporations ought to sacrifice their bottom line for the “little guy,” but on whether raising the minimum wage will in fact have a positive impact on our economy.
As a small business owner, I have concerns about what a $15 per hour minimum wage will do to our employment issues. It is a reality that many of us would not be able to employ as many people. For example, if Small Biz, Inc., which has three employees earning $12, $10 and $8 per hour (all above the
current minimum wage) suddenly has to pay $15 per hour, the cost of two employees is now the same as it was for three employees. With over six million small businesses nationwide, if just half of us can no longer afford to keep as many employees and have to let go just one employee, an additional three million workers become unemployed. That is a 2.7 percent increase to unemployment! Where will these workers go? They have been in minimum wage positions and therefore typically have developed skills that can be utilized only in other minimum wage roles. At least while they are employed, they have the opportunity to develop new skills that could perhaps lead to higher paying positions. They cannot gain work experience while unemployed. And let’s face it, when the time comes for an employer to make that tough decision, it is going to be the employees that have demonstrated the least amount of desire to develop that will be let go first.
I suppose the argument could then shift to the writer’s last point: “Let’s invest in each other and not…take pleasure in creating someone else’s struggle.” I agree this is a very noble concept; however, I can assure you it is anything but a pleasure to have to tell someone you can no longer continue your employment relationship. It is already terrible enough when employment is terminated for performance issues. It would be especially awful if it was a result of cash flow issues related to minimum wage increases. Additionally, many of us small business owners have had to work awfully hard and make some sizable sacrifices both personally and financially to be in a position to invest in others and make employment opportunities available to those that need one. I feel it is unfairly short-sighted to suggest we, as employers, are responsible for making the additional sacrifices. We have families to support, too.
– Dwight Briggs