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Readers Split on Whether Minimum Wage Increase Would Help, Hurt Economy

The Maryland House approved gradually increasing the minimum wage for most workers from the federal level of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2017.

The Maryland House approved gradually increasing the base rate of pay for most workers from the federal level of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2017. File|Patch
The Maryland House approved gradually increasing the base rate of pay for most workers from the federal level of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2017. File|Patch

The Maryland House of Delegates voted 89 to 46 on Friday to pass Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage.

If also passed by the Senate, the measure would gradually increase the base rate of pay for most workers from the federal level of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2017.

Not surprisingly, Patch readers have some thoughts on whether a minimum wage increase would boost the economy by putting more spending money in workers' pockets, or eliminate jobs because businesses can't afford to pay more.

A couple of small business owners say they will be forced to raise their costs and trim employee hours to offset the wage increase. But others say it will help the consumer economy.

Here's a sampling of reader comments from our earlier story.

Kim Cooke: "Fueling the middle class. Consider this: I was working a minimum wage job when we sold our family home 30 years ago. That house is now worth more than five times the value and minimum wage is only slightly more than twice what I was making.

Sharon Pierpoint: "If people want higher wages, go back to school or attend a trade school."

"So over three years a business owner will have to raise an employees pay from $7.50 to $10.10 an hour. But to make up for that I am now going to have to raise my food prices not only to cover my new employees minimum wage, but because the guy I get my supplies from has now raised his prices because the people he gets his stuff from had to raise his prices," writes Holly Agouridis. "We are an average mom and pop carryout who have been in business for over 30 years. We already take great care of our employees by giving them above minimum wages and extra each month when we do good. So now I am going to have to cut people's hours and bye bye bonuses."

shaun fsir:  "I too am a small business owner and in the same business as you and your husband. Most of my employees make more than minimum wage already. The few that don't are high school students. It may help some people, but ultimately it will hurt the small business owners who really drive the economy, as well as the work they do with the local communities which they serve. It leaves nothing left for goodwill, helping schools, sports teams, churches, etc."

Maryellen Brady: "Raising the minimum wage is good for the economy and the future of the viability of the American workforce. It is proven that spreading the wealth creates more consumers, who demand products, that need to be serviced by people and thus creates jobs."

Cynthia thompson: "I've run across some receptionist/administrative jobs that only want to pay that amount and that's absurd...employers are greedy. I myself currently would not be able to survive on $10, $15 or $20 an hour without working working at least 2 jobs..the cost of living, especially here in Maryland is very high!!!"
Michael Ernest March 10, 2014 at 11:30 AM
It is patently obvious that the buzz about the MW increases is really something the POTUS, his democrat cronies like MOM and the majority party politicians in MD have initiated because it is mid-term election time. So important to rally the lower income and poor troops into battle. The proponents of the MW increases only look at one side of the issue and cite typical economists like the far left Paul Krugman who only sees economics through his Keynesian glasses. I am no businessman, but realize that a person is in business to get a monetary return commensurate to his/her risk (of capital and time). Every input including labor adds to the cost of the service or product offered for sale. Labor is a fixed cost which means that cost is built into the product and must be paid before any profit is earned. Increasing that fixed labor cost means in order to maintain a profit margin, more products/services must be sold, prices need to be increased or eliminate some of the labor and expect more output from the remaining labor. The equation is very simple-you increase labor cost then something else has to be impacted. Increasing MW is simply the government's way of artificially increasing the value of one's labor and assume that everything will be hunky dorey. Labor wage rates ought to be set by market forces operating under the principles of supply and demand. Then there are the folks that clamor that MW increases are a measure of "social justice". This is liberal hog wash just like the buzzword "fair share". If one wants a living wage, it is incumbent on the individual to make an effort to better themselves through education or training. How much training/skill does it take to flip burgers or take orders and bag them?
Chuck Burton March 10, 2014 at 12:23 PM
As has been pointed out elsewhere, raising the minimum wage a buck means that people who have already moved up a buck over the minimum will expect and deserve a raise too. So will people in the level above that, etc. All those raises must be paid by business, and prices will also need to rise if the business is to keep paying wages to employees, though it will take some time for the full effect to be felt. Sooner or later, though, the new wage will buy no more than the old wage did, and people will begin to clamor again for a higher MW. Also, the difference between the MW and higher levels is likely to decrease, making promotions less valuable.It's a fools game.
Wheel March 10, 2014 at 12:44 PM
If expenses rise for a business, in order to make the same profits, that same business must either increase revenues, or decrease expenses. It is really that simple. If you believe raising wages means increased revenues, run with it. The rest of us should be prepared for how the decreased expenses will affect our lives. Better pay is a natural result of job availability. Increase jobs, increase wages. How does the economy increase jobs? Let free enterprise thrive by removing regulations that suppress activity . Again, it's really that simple.
michael mooney March 10, 2014 at 01:15 PM
wage rates are like a ladder. If you raise the bottom rung (minimum wage) a foot the top rung (Donald Trumps) and all rungs in between go up a foot. The net result is the folks at the bottom will STILL be at the bottom. It will just take more from the middle class who will not get raises they have worked hard to earn and everybody will pay more for everything. Minimum wage has gone up many times since it's inception and yet we still have/ need it as a base below which nobody can be paid. Minimum wage was instituted to prevent employers from demanding you work 10 hour days only to tell you "sorry, you did not produce enough today so no pay today, try harder tomorrow!" Minimum wage was NEVER designed to be a living wage and it never will be regardless how high that figure is. There will always be the have and the have nots where the only way to do better is become a congressman as hard work will only have you taxed to death to pay for all the give away programs. Want to create REAL jobs? Throw out your computers and hire humans and boycot all do it yourself services like self serve checkout lanes.
Wayne Adamson March 10, 2014 at 10:08 PM
I have seen no data to confirm whether past increases of minimum wages have reduced employment but if it does trend that way,a bunch of people are in trouble. If the economy were humming along I wouldn't worry. We are however living in job scarce times. We can't afford more lay offs. This is not the time to put the squeeze on sm.

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