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Raising the minimum wage has mixed response
Carroll County Times ^ | 2-24 | Kelcie Pegher

Posted on 02/26/2013 8:48:23 AM PST by ExxonPatrolUs

The Rev. David Olson speaks through a megaphone at a raising minimum wage rally near the Walmart in Catonsville Thursday.

On a cold and blustery day, a group of more than 15 supporters of raising the minimum wage in Maryland gathered in front of Walmart’s entrance in Catonsville.

There were more than 10 Baltimore County police cars waiting in the parking lot, which is private property. The group went in front of Walmart’s sign on U.S. 40 to raise their signs which read “Raise the minimum wage.”

A proposal in the Maryland Senate would raise the minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $8.25 in the first year, and $9 in 2014, and eventually to $10 in 2015. It would also increase the tipped minimum wage from 50 percent to 70 percent of the full minimum wage by 2015.

The bill’s author, Sen. Robert Garagiola, D–District 15, said the bill is an important piece of legislation to help the fight against poverty.

According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank, increasing the minimum wage would affect 536,000 Maryland residents, which equates to one in five workers in the state. In the study, the Economic Policy Institute found 87 percent of workers who would benefit from the legislation are older than 20 years old.

“Most of these workers are not coming from wealthy families. These are not just teenagers who need extra spending money,” David Cooper, an economist analyst with the Economic Policy Institute, said.

During the rally Michael Mensah, a Walmart employee from Laurel, said with his current wage even at $10 an hour, he still cannot support himself without help from his family. Mensah said he currently lives with his mother and does not have a car —the $1,100 rent in Laurel is too much to incur.

In President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech, he called for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.

Matthew Hanson, the campaign coordinator, said Obama backing an increase could help garner support for the bill.

“I think it’s wonderful that so many people are talking about the issue. I know we feel the energy,” Hanson said.

During the half-hour rally, workers held signs to honk to support a higher minimum wage. Trucks and minivans alike passed by, honking.

Some 19 other states and Washington have a higher minimum wage than Maryland. Washington, D.C., has an $8.25 minimum wage and neighboring states Virginia and Pennsylvania are currently at $7.25.

Currently a person earning the federal minimum wage who works 40 hours a week with no vacation time will make $15,080 per year. A minimum wage worker earns around $4,000 more annually than the official poverty line for a single person. However, the cost of living in Maryland, as designated by the cost of living index, is higher than the national average in 16 out of 24 Maryland counties, including Carroll.

Signs at the rally included the compensation for the CEO of Walmart, which was $18,131,738 in 2011, and the annual minimum wage. According to a report released by the National Employment Law Project, retailers with more than 100 employees employ 71 percent of Maryland low-wage workers.

Business owners and lawmakers in Carroll said such a steep raise in the minimum wage would hurt more than it would help.

Sen. Allan Kittleman, R-District 9, said history shows that raising the minimum wage dramatically hurts the unskilled labor force.

“If an employer is going to pay $10 or more an hour for somebody, they’re going to find a skilled person to do it. It’s going to really hurt people trying to get into the workforce,” Kittleman said.

Ken Lurie, the owner of Bud’s at Silver Run, agreed. He said he would have to reorganize how his wait staff operates and likely begin hiring more experienced workers.

Kittleman said raising the wages of tipped restaurant workers could be problematic because a lot of small business owners are restaurant owners.

Scott Beck, the owner of E.W. Beck’s Restaurant & Pub in Sykesville, said he and his wife have spent many nights discussing the proposed legislation.

“It’s going to affect our bottom line so greatly —we discussed maybe closing for lunch a couple days a week or something. We’re kind of open now as a convenience factor for some people in town, but it’s kind of putting us in a predicament that it just doesn’t pay to be open,” Beck said.

The Economic Policy Institute estimates raising the minimum wage will add approximately 4,300 new jobs, because raising low-wage workers’ minimum wage will likely cause the worker to add the money back into the local economy.

But Kittleman said while the bill has good intentions, it could cause job cuts.

“I think in the long run it hurts the same group people they think they’re helping,” he said.

Restaurant owners would possibly be forced to raise the prices of food to customers, said Jon Weetman, the administrator of operations and small business development at the Department of Economic Development in Carroll County.

Business owners tend to have three options when the minimum wage rises, he said.

“They can just absorb it and make less money, they can cut back on hiring or they can raise their prices,” Weetman said. “They can always do a blend of the three, but they really only have those three choices. A lot of small businesses —they take on tasks themselves or put off hiring a little longer.”

Raising the prices won’t cover all of the recent expenses Beck said he is incurring from the federal and state government.

“We can only charge so much for a hamburger,” Beck said.

TOPICS: Chit/Chat

1 posted on 02/26/2013 8:48:26 AM PST by ExxonPatrolUs
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

All this talk about wanting to help the low wage earners and bring the minimum wage up to a livable wage is nothing more than government BS!!!!!!

The real reason for the wanted increase is to pay off the unions for their support and votes... Most unions have it in their contracts that if the minimum wage goes up, the union members wages go up accordingly..IOW, if the minimum wage goes up $1.50, the union member floor sweeper, who makes $20.00 an hour will now make $21.50 an hour....

There are very few employees at minimum wage, other than teens who are working part-time, but there are thousands and thousands of union workers...There is where the cost will hit the businesses greatest....

2 posted on 02/26/2013 9:17:58 AM PST by Boonie
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

Tremendous numbers of Low Information Voters buy into this sophistry. I suspect we are going to $10/hour with automatic cost of living kickers sooner rather than later.

3 posted on 02/26/2013 9:30:54 AM PST by Buckeye McFrog
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

No mixed response here - NO!

4 posted on 02/26/2013 9:39:24 AM PST by bgill
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To: Boonie

Read where the union contract for the UAW has provisions for every 25 cent increase in the minimum wage, union workers get 75 cents.

5 posted on 02/26/2013 9:57:09 AM PST by Hillarys Gate Cult (Liberals make unrealistic demands on reality and reality doesn't oblige them.)
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To: Boonie

I remember reading an article years ago that explained how an increase in the minimum wage would result in a union wage increase, which was the Democrats real goal.
This of course would cause prices to rise, leaving the minimum wage worker no better off than before.

6 posted on 02/26/2013 10:09:45 AM PST by Wiser now (Socialism does not eliminate poverty, it guarantees it.)
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

I Agree. We need a minimum wage hike. Lets go to $150 per hour.

I figure since the liberals are picking numbers out of their butts for this we may as well make it a good one.

Raising the minimum wage ALWAYS hurts the miinimum wage worker. Most of them are not worth the amount they are being paid now so the owner has no real choice but to fire them and lean on the remaining workers to work harder

Who’s going to take the risk of hiring an inner city kid now? With the all but certain discipline problems and a new higher wage you’d NEVER get your money’s worth out of them.

7 posted on 02/26/2013 10:17:19 AM PST by John O (God Save America (Please))
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