- New York made headlines last week when a panel appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recommended that minimum wage for fast food employees throughout the state be raised to $15 an hour – reflecting a nationwide debate on how we should treat incomes at “the bottom of the pay scale,” according to the New York Times.
- Congressional Democrats have proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $12, though Republicans argue that this will cost jobs and “hurt the very people it is intended to help.”
- The biggest struggle surrounding the wage debate is the uncertainty, according to the Times. No one is quite sure how the economy would be affected -- not even economists who are largely in support of raising the minimum wage.
Another issue with wages: employers in expensive cities can more readily adapt to a wage shift than those in less populated areas, says the Times. Rent in cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco tends to take up more of a business’s overall costs than wages, so employers can absorb an increase in labor cost. Not so for those in small towns.
The trade off in workforce quality is something to be considered, however. Cole Hardware, a chain of Bay Area stores, pays their employees $13 an hour minimum, increasing as employees gain more experience, according to the Times. The tradeoff is greater employee retention and therefore more educated workers who are able to provide substantially improved customer service.
But how such a change would shake out on a national level is yet to be known. Keep an eye on this legislation as it develops – some say it will be a centerpiece of the 2016 election.