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My view: Can’t build a strong economy on weak minimum wage

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  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    April 5, 2014 6:07 a.m.

    Raising the minimum wage will help low-wage earners in the short term, and that's good. But raising the minimum wage increases inflation in the longer term, which is both good and bad.

    For people or nations with a lot of debt, inflation is good because it decreases what they owe, and the amount of indebtedness is worth comparably less. Anyone paying a mortgage should be happy to see the minimum wage raised because the resulting bump in inflation decreases the amount they pay and owe in real terms.

    For people living on a fixed income or pension with no cost of living increase built in, it's a bad thing, because inflation makes their income worth less in real terms, and it would be in their best interest to keep the minimum wage where it is.

  • RedShirtCalTech Pasedena, CA
    April 4, 2014 7:43 a.m.

    To "Commodore" what you propose was tried in the 1930's. It failed. It kept us in the depression for 7 years longer than most any other nation.

    Why go back to failed laws that only create misery?

  • Pops NORTH SALT LAKE, UT
    April 4, 2014 7:10 a.m.

    The author makes a good point at the beginning of the article - that they paid their employees more than the minimum wage and, in return got better employee performance - but then undercuts it. If the minimum wage is increased, the workers will, in fact receive more money (at least those who are still employed), but the incentive will be lost. They won't know whether their employer would have paid them the same if the minimum wage were lower.

    Greedy employers who exploit their employees should go out of business. But having a higher minimum wage helps prop up the greedy employer because it shields the employee from at least one aspect of the employer's greediness. Wouldn't it be better if that type of employer could only hire really crappy employees because of crappy pay, and, as a result, nobody would give them any business?

    A lot of commenters here appear to have never had a job in the real world. The notions that businesses are evil and that government can coerce them to be good are both foolish. Go start a business and you'll soon find out for yourself what is reality and what is fantasy.

  • Commodore West Jordan, UT
    April 3, 2014 10:34 p.m.

    Workers deserve fair wages. We have some crazy notion in this country that workers are truly paid what they are worth. Are CEOs of mega corporations really worth $200 million a year plus stock options? Are their lowest paid employees really only worth $7.25 an hour? Nope.

    I think many people will be disappointed come the day of judgement to discover they oppressed the poor, denied them fair wages, and effectively perpetrated their suffering. Oh the irony when these business men were lifetime church goers that sang " Have I done any good in the world today?.....if not I have failed indeed."

    Sadly many businesses have failed to treat their employees fairly and have regarded them as tissue paper. Cheap, abundant, and disposable. If businesses won't do the right thing (most won't out of greed) then regulation is required.

    Commodore's list of suggested economic regulations:

    1. All jobs for adults receive a living wage of at least $15
    2. No job may be sent over seas unless the company pays a tax equal to 200% of the annual wage of the American worker.
    3. End Corporate welfare
    4. Implement tariffs to encourage more American production ( Yes we will have to consume less).

  • Sven Morgan, UT
    April 3, 2014 10:32 a.m.

    Tell you what, if you Liberals don't feel like employers are paying their low-skilled, entry-level employees enough, why don't you help these folks out by writing them a check for the difference. I mean, after all, it isn't fair that you make more than them, and you folks do believe in wealth redistribution. Okay, put your money where your mouth is.

    I challenge each Liberal posting here to go to their local fast food restaurant (or other business where there are low-skilled, entry-level positions), pick one individual, and commit to writing them a personal check every two weeks to make up the difference for the minimum wage increase of $7.25 - to $9.00 per hour that you demand.

    Since you folks are adamant that this additional cost won’t affect the businesses who are being asked to raise the minimum wage, and that it really stems from the greed of the business owner, it also shouldn’t be a problem for you to step up to the plate and cough up this additional cost for the minimum wage increase of one worker. Come on; show us how it’s done!

    ((Crickets))

  • Brer Rabbit Spanish Fork, UT
    April 3, 2014 10:17 a.m.

    I have no problem increasing the minimum wage, but the belief that it is a panacea for low income workers doesn't make any more sense than rent and price controls. Ignoring that a labor surplus is the problem insures that there will be no real solution.

    A large labor surplus has developed due to 1) Automation, 2)Mechanization 3)Off-shoring of factory jobs to cheap labor countries, and 4)Flooding the labor market with cheap legal and illegal immigrant labor. Not much can be done about the jobs lost to automation, mechanization and in a global environment off-shoring of jobs. However, there is no reason to continually give away American jobs to cheap labor immigrants, which is most harmful to the low income workers.

    Often nasty cold/hot bad jobs are seen as jobs for immigrants. The only thing that makes a job a bad job is the wage. I don't care how nasty the job is, if the wage is high enough it will be viewed as a good job. If the flood of illegal and legal immigrant labor were eliminated or stopped, the labor market would tighten and wages would increased due to supply and demand.

  • RedShirtCalTech Pasedena, CA
    April 3, 2014 8:18 a.m.

    To "LOU Montana" it goes both ways. Remember when Hostess closed its doors? Their Union was demanding more money that the company didn't have. It killed the business.

  • LOU Montana Pueblo, CO
    April 3, 2014 5:52 a.m.

    When employers pay a better wage the employee do not look for better paying jobs, they get hurt less on the job, they miss less work and they make fewer mistakes. The overall attitude of the employee is better and production is better.

    When employers pay a better wage the get far more in return from their employees. It is simple math!

    Greed of the employer makes his business fail.

  • Um Actually... Provo, UT
    April 2, 2014 9:41 p.m.

    If paying higher wages is simply good business practice, then why do we need the government to dictate to businesses what they pay their workers?

    The question is not "What is a living wage?" $7 an hour was never meant to provide a middle class life, it is entry level and and it does NOT provide a comfortable life. In fact, neither does $10.

    The question is not "what is a living wage?" the question is rather "Is it the proper role of the government to dictate to businesses what they pay their workers? Does the government really know better than you, business owner/manager what the supply and demand is for labor for your business?" The government does a poor job of this task, to say the least.

    The author knows what to pay her workers in order to attract quality talent. But if the federal government mandates this wage for all businesses and types of jobs, it does so with a sledge hammer, and many jobs and businesses will be shut down and workers laid off. WE the people know better than the government what it takes to attract good workers.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    April 2, 2014 2:47 p.m.

    To "Badgerbadger" how can the minimum wage be an indicator of the economy when only 1.1% of workers earn minimum wage, and nearly 1/3 of those workers are teenagers? I would think that looking at the average wage for jobs that don't require a college degree would be a better indication. For example, the median wage for fast food workers is nearly $9/hr. So why artifically bump that up more?

  • Stormwalker Cleveland , OH
    April 2, 2014 2:41 p.m.

    Mandating a higher minimum wage will not help in the long term.

    For three years I was a supervisor in a nursing home and hired for every department but nursing. We brought entry level (certified aides, no experience) in for $9 to $11 an hour, depending on age and "life experience." Those with experience came in at $10 to $13 an hour. Most employees got a raise of 50 cents an hour at 90 days, and 50 cents to a full dollar at the first anniversary. In other words, a significant recognition of work performed.

    We paid more than our competitors. I often hired people who's last annual raise was in the 10 to 15 cents an hour range. That kind of raise is not recognition of work done and experience gained.

    In my opinion the problem is not the minimum wage, it is giving raises up from minimum that are essentially meaningless. Especially when the owners of mega corporations get bonus in the multi-million range.

    How about limiting total CEO compensation to a multiple of the lowest hourly wage paid in the company.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    April 2, 2014 2:31 p.m.

    "The MINIMUM wage doesn't drive the economy."

    I agree with 2 bits.

    The minimum wage is an indicator, not a driver of the economy.

    The naturally occurring minimum wage is an indication of the strength of the economy. The low wage now tells the economy is still sick.

    Liberals don't want the economy to look bad when their 'guys' run the senate and live in the white house. That is why they want to artificially raise the minimum wage, so the economy will look better and thus the president will look better.

    And they don't care about families trying to live on minimum wage, and they don't care about those who will lose their jobs when they raise the minimum wage. It is all about them, the liberals in office, particularly Obama.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    April 2, 2014 1:17 p.m.

    To "Pagan" obviously following your advice won't work. We have now had Obama in office for the past 6 years, leading the economy. Lets see how well liberal policies work.

    From Investors "Household Incomes Fall In August, Down 8.2% Under Obama " apparently the average household is earning less under liberal policies than under conservativeish policies.

    From the Huffington Post "Income Inequality Worse Under Obama Than George W. Bush". I think that says it all.

    Why listen to people who have a track record of killing incomes for the average worker and boosting their wealthy supporters?

    For you liberals out there, explain why a person needs to earn more now than in 1950, adjusting for inflation? The article stated that the minimum wage is roughly the same as it was in 1950, that means you have the same buying power as you would have had back then. Why do you need more buying power now, what has changed except for greedy workers that want more "stuff"?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 2, 2014 12:32 p.m.

    I think the fundamental assumption of this article is flawed.

    The MINIMUM wage doesn't drive the economy. And no strong economy has ever been built on a MINIMUM wage (high or low).

    You can't build a strong economy on a weak minimum wage. And you can't build a strong economy on a strong minimum wage. Economies aren't driven by the minimum wage.

    ===

    STRONG economies are build on OPPORTUNITY.... (not minimum wage laws). Opportunity to increase your wage WAY above the Minimum-wage.

    ===

    To have a strong economy... we need more opportunity... Which means more people willing to develop their skills, and more businesses willing to pay more and take the place of the businesses that fail because they are only willing to pay the minimum, so they couldn't attract the best employees.

    ===

    If you think people aren't paid enough... start your own business and pay yourself what you think you are worth, and pay your help what they are worth. Don't expect the government to force others to do what YOU want. Just do like the people in the article... start your business and pay your help more than minimum!

    Be the solution!

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    April 2, 2014 12:18 p.m.

    LDS Liberal,

    Thank you for telling me about too prideful. My religious leaders do not share your opinion. They were appointed to their office by those having authority. We visit regularly. Did anyone with authority appoint you to be my priesthood leader? (I'm politely trying to tell you that are acting as a judge in Israel without having been appointed to that position.)

    If you have advice to those who think that they are owed a better wage without providing greater value, we're all waiting to read your opinion; but, if you're only concerned with telling those of us who have worked 80 hour weeks for thirty years that we're being overpaid for our expertise, then you're wasting your time.

    Let me tell you a little secret. It takes a lot of money to raise eight children and one foster child. It takes a lot of money to send five children on missions. It takes a lot of money to house them, clothe them and to feed them.

    The Lord has been generous, but He expected me to prepare myself and to work hard six days a week.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    April 2, 2014 12:17 p.m.

    At the end of the day, between this and other stories in the media, I don't understand why conservative hate other people, especially the weaker and poor, so much.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    April 2, 2014 10:44 a.m.

    @2bits
    "The solution is...
    Don't work for people who only pay the minimum"

    The problem with that is that the people who need to scrape together whatever they can just to get by don't generally have the flexibility to stage that sort of boycott.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    April 2, 2014 10:43 a.m.

    LDS Liberal,

    Nobody in my field who is qualified would be satisfied with an hourly wage of $69.62 an hour. That is far below "entry level" wages for systems admins. People in my field are well paid because they perform a service that is valuable. We administer millions of dollars worth of hardware and software. We have been trained. We have become qualified. We are not satisfied with doing as little as possible to get through life, but to be able to do whatever is required of us.

    When we hire people, we hire people who have the same attitude as we have. We will not take a chance on someone who cannot do the job on the day that he is hired.

    Minimum wage or near-minimum wages are paid to people who have not qualified themselves for higher wages.

    There are two ways for a person to earn more. He can risk his own money and hope that he knows what he is doing or he can be well trained. Waiting for "minimum wage" to lift him will never help.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    April 2, 2014 9:47 a.m.

    Excellent "My View" piece from a business owner. The only thing that would be better than paying employees a living wage would be to give them a share of the ownership, since they certainly have earned it. That would put even more money in the hands of those who make the economy go: consumers.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    April 2, 2014 9:43 a.m.

    LDS Liberal,

    I, too, am a small business owner. Back in 1978, I paid my employees $18.00 an hour. They did technical work. They were expected to know what they were doing. They had to be well qualified. By the way, if you don't remember, back then a very good wage was $4.50 an hour. I know that because that is the wage that I left when I started my own business. At $18 an hour, they had real buying power. Because of the efficiencies that the computer equipment that I designed and programmed, I also made a good living. I would not hire anyone who was not fully qualified to do the job required. I would not hire anyone who didn't show up every day on time and put in a full day's work for a full day's pay. They expected the same from me.

    Those who were willing to work for "minimum wage" were not qualified. They were satisfied with doing the minimum. I didn't need them.

  • freedomingood provo, Utah
    April 2, 2014 9:20 a.m.

    I think we should lower the minimum wage to $5 for a couple months.

    Then, as those workers can't pay rent, don't buy cloths, don't buy food and other things we;ll see the same business community crying for a raise in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    April 2, 2014 9:11 a.m.

    Mike,

    You asked "Just what does $10 per hour buy the breadwinner"? I will help you, 25% more than $7.25 and hour buys them. No it may not get them to the American dream, but I am pretty sure the owner of the Ace Hardware stores who wrote this article doesn't leave her employees at $10.10 and hour for their entire career. She understands happy employees who feel respected by the boss are better employees and more productive which is especially important to her in the customer service business.

    A country that has a small wealthy elite class and a large poor class will not survive. The tax policies of the federal government of the last almost 40 years have benefited the rich and created a society with a disproportionate amount of wealth is held by a small group. If this continues, this country will not survive, plain and simple. You can blame, rationalize and make all the excuses you want, but history tells us that we will be in a civil war at some point, because those on the bottom have nothing more to lose.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 2, 2014 8:59 a.m.

    I almost forgot... the real solution doesn't work in America anymore.

    Because if Americans refuse to do these jobs (because they don't pay enough)... there are 11 million people in this country to do the "jobs American's won't do"... just waiting in line for those jobs.

    Maybe we do need the government mandate. Because we KNOW the government aint going to do anything about the 11 million people here making the real solution impossible.

    ===

    Now that I think about it... Some employers aren't going to pay above the minimum unless they have to. And they don't have to... as long as they have a long line of people willing to do the job for the minimum (or less).

  • KDave Moab, UT
    April 2, 2014 8:57 a.m.

    Two questions. If the minimum wage is raised to 10.25 what will you then pay your workers? If you pay them 13.00 an hour so they are not working for minimum wage, were will you get the extra moneys to cover the wage increase?

  • GK Willington Salt Lake City, UT
    April 2, 2014 8:41 a.m.

    per Mike Richards

    "Minimum wage was not meant to be a living wage. It allows unskilled workers to get in the job market without bankrupting good-hearted employers."

    You might get employees who were more diligent with better wages, but, concur with Mike. Most people IMO earning minimum wage are people entering the job market and/or kids working their thru school.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 2, 2014 8:39 a.m.

    Being from Baltimore... I can see why they would assume the solution must be a government mandated minimum wage. But from the letter... I can tell they know the REAL solution.

    They CHOSE to pay their employees more than the minimum wage. They didn't wait for the government to mandate it. THAT is the solution.

    ====

    VERY few jobs deserve the "minimum" wage. Only jobs a trained monkey could do.

    People running your hardware store, and dealing with your customers deserve more than minimum wage. IMO they deserve more than $10.00/hour. And you can give them more than $10.00/hour... without a government mandate. You don't have to pay your employees the "Minimum" wage!

    ====

    More employers should do as they did... pay your employees more than the "minimum" wage! Pay them what they are worth to you! You would have only one small store, run just by you, without them!

    ====

    The "minimum" wage doesn't drive the economy.

    No job requiring skills and hard work should be paid the "minimum" wage.

    ===

    The solution is...
    Don't work for people who only pay the minimum... they will fail and be replaced with businesses that do...

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    April 2, 2014 8:32 a.m.

    @Mike Richards
    South Jordan, Utah

    Did you read the article?

    This was not me.

    This was written by a small business owner, who completely disagrees with your opinion --
    and has given good solid evidence to the contrary.

    I know the America you want,
    and we don't want to live in Somalia.

  • NedGrimley Brigham City, UT
    April 2, 2014 8:20 a.m.

    "Americans understand that some people will earn more money than others, and we don't resent those who, by virtue of their efforts, achieve incredible success. That's what America's all about." President Barack Obama

    Still a lot of resentment going on, despite the words of our President.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    April 2, 2014 7:42 a.m.

    Just what does $10 per hour buy the breadwinner? If the worker got to take home 100% of his wage (which is impossible), he would earn $20,000 a year, or $1,666 per month. If the worker wants to own a home could he afford $1,000 a month for a very modest home (including property taxes and insurance)? Is he going to walk to work? If not, can he afford to buy a car, even for $150 a month, buy two tanks of gas for $100 a month, pay $250 a month minimum for electricity, heating and local-area-only telephone? If he did, Can he feed his family and buy their clothes for $166 a month? If he pays tithing, he's $40 in the hole before he feeds his family and buys clothing. What about medical? Does his employer pay 100% of all medical bills? Does his employer even provide insurance? Where is he going to find even the co-pay?

    Minimum wage was not meant to be a living wage. It allows unskilled workers to get in the job market without bankrupting good-hearted employers.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    April 2, 2014 7:11 a.m.

    A REAL world business story
    [as opposed to AM radio Midway Parrots],
    supporting a wage increase.

    The Rich do not spend, they don't need to - they already have everything they need, want.
    They horde and squirrel away -- which stiffles the economy.

  • anti-liar Salt Lake City, UT
    April 2, 2014 6:56 a.m.

    But of course this is impossible, according to the pathologically greedy employers among us.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    April 2, 2014 12:42 a.m.

    Cause: Bush tax cuts.

    Effect:

    'Study: Rich get a lot richer, outpace middle class' - By Andrew Taylor - AP - Reported by the Deseret News - 10/26/11

    'The study comes from the Congressional Budget Office and is based on IRS and Census Bureau data.
    It finds that after-tax income for the top 1 percent of U.S. households almost TRIPLED, up 275 percent, from 1979 to 2007.

    For people in the middle of the economic scale, after-tax income grew by JUST 40 percent.'