The DC Board of Elections ruled on Wednesday to include the “Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2016” on next year’s ballot. Meanwhile, a similar board in New York City makes a huge mistake by voting to double minimum wage only for fast-food employees.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 but varies by state. While many complain that supporting yourself with a minimum wage job is no longer possible due to increases in rent, others argue that hardly anyone works a minimum wage job for more than a few years.
DC already enjoys the highest minimum wage in the nation – and it increased to $10.50 on July 1st this year. But apparently that wasn’t good enough. The “Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2016” will appear on next year’s ballot if advocates can collect signatures from 5% of the city’s population before November 2016. If approved, the minimum wage in DC will increase gradually, reaching $15 per hour by the end of 2020. After that, wages will increase based on the cost of living and inflation.
An unelected board in NY somehow bypassed State Legislature on Wednesday and voted to increase the minimum wage from $8.75 to $15 – but only for fast-food employees. The rest of the state would have to wait until 2021. Seattle and LA have similar plans, but the change is not limited to one industry.
Pro-business groups argue that an increase – gradual or immediate – will destroy small businesses: “No small business owner, which many in the food service industry are, can continue to operate under those conditions,” says Harry Wingo, DC Chamber of Commerce President. “Thus many more will close as we have seen in other jurisdictions that have adopted this requirement.”
Many Republicans criticize the left for backing a plan that won’t actually help. While current employees would certainly enjoy a raise, what will the effect be on hiring, prices, and employers? Advocates are making a mistake when they consider minimum wage workers a permanent class. In reality, many of these individuals are young workers who will soon move on to higher-paying jobs. Few individuals work at minimum wage for more than a two years. Besides, if a minimum wage job allowed for comfortable living, where would the motivation be to improve?