Olney Speaks Minimum Wage Increase

We created a Facebook poll asking how many people are in favor of the proposed minimum wage increase that will increase the minimum wage from $7.50/hour to $15/ hour over a six-year period.

The poll results show 34% voted for the minimum wage increase and 66% voted against the minimum wage increase.

The Democrat-controlled House passed the H.R. 582 bill cited as the “Raise the Wage Act” that would increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour in six years. However, pundits are predicting rejection of H.R. 582 by the Republican-controlled Senate.

The H.R. 582 bill proposes an increase to $9.50 in year one. Year two, the hourly wage increases to $10.60, $11.70 in year three, and subsequent annual increases to $12.80, $13.90, and finally $15 in year six. Legislators on the right argue that the proposed increase will adversely impact small businesses resulting in layoffs.

To put the impact the wage increase would have on small businesses into perspective, one must understand how the government defines a small business. Previously, the Small Business Administration described a small business as a business with less than 50 employees or one that earned less than $250K annually. Now, the parameters have expanded and based on the type of industry. For example, according to the new standards, a small business could be one with a maximum of 250 employees or 1500 employees. In either case, determining factors include the number of employees and the annual receipts. In consideration of these standards, it is easy to see that the impact of the wage increase would not be the same for businesses on opposite ends of the spectrum.

A few Republican legislators have voiced their concern about the groups such as rural America that would be affected the most by the wage increase. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report that discloses the impact a wage increase would have on employment and families, stating, “Increasing the federal minimum wage would have two principal effects on low-wage workers. For most low-wage workers, earnings and family income would increase, which could lift some families out of poverty. But other low-wage workers would become jobless, and their family income would fall—income cases, below the poverty threshold.”

Legislators have not increased the minimum wage since 2009. However, a few states including Seattle, San Francisco, New York and California voluntarily raised their local minimum wages to $15 an hour. Amazon recently increased its minimum wage rate to $15. It is likely the bill will not pass the Senate. If it passes the Senate, President Trump will refuse to sign it, touting the unemployment rate at a 50-year low and increased job openings that exceed the number of unemployed workers.

With more than 81 million workers age 16 and older earning hourly wages, is $7.25 enough to support a single adult or a family? Most economists would answer “no;” especially considering the rising cost of living.

Congressman Jodey Arrington (TX-19) released the following statement after voting against the “Raise the Wage Act.”

“The best way to raise workers’ wages, pull people out of poverty, and put them on a path to prosperity is not through imposing big-government mandates that distort the market, burden small businesses, and, ultimately, put Americans out of work. In fact, the misguided $15 minimum wage legislation Democrats passed out of the House today would hurt the very people it is trying to help, resulting in a loss of almost four million American jobs and a reduction in family income by $9 billion,”  said Arrington.  

“I am proud to have joined my Republican colleagues and President Trump to pass progrowth tax reform, which has activated the free market forces of competition and led to wages rising at the fastest pace in a decade, unemployment at the lowest level in nearly half a century,  and over 1.4 million more job openings than there are workers to fill them. Going forward, these policies, not extreme left-wing proposals that put our nation on the road to economic ruin, should guide our approach.”

The poll respondents shared varied opinions on the increase of minimum wage.

Howard McDaris said, “As a young man coming from a low social economically challenged family, I knew minimum wage would keep me status quo. But fortunately, in this country you can put work and effort to move up the economic social chain. This may require some sacrifices but it can be done. $15.00 an hour is not feasible for the small business.”

John Whitaker said he remembers when minimum wage was increased to $3.35/hour, but felt it had an adverse affect on him because his purchasing power was diminished as prices increased to cover the minimum wage increase. He believes minimum wage was never meant to be a living wage.

Clint Neal said, “What about a person that started around minimum wage and has worked his or her way up learning and earning raises; and by the time they make it to $15/hour the new employee can start at same pay that knows nothing? Not in favor.”

Terry Whitsitt said, “The people working for $7.50 can’t make a living and certainly can’t own anything. They should have a right to own something other than just the wealthy.”

Read all comments and share your opinion on our Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/OlneyEnterprise.

The Olney Enterprise

213 E. Main St.
PO Box 577

Olney, Texas 76374

Phone: (940) 564-5558

Fax: (940) 564-3992