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CPBJ Extra Blog

How much is enough?

By
Sens. Daylin Leach, left, and Sen. Mike Stack.
Sens. Daylin Leach, left, and Sen. Mike Stack. - (Photo / )

Raising the minimum wage has so many angles to discuss that I can barely contain the thoughts running through my head this morning.

Last week, state Sens. Daylin Leach, D-King of Prussia, and Mike Stack, D-Philadelphia, introduced Senate Bill 1317, which seeks to raise state minimum wage to $12 per hour (up from the current $7.25) and eliminate the sub-minimum wage for tipped employees (currently $2.83).

It's a noble move on their parts — as it has been every time a legislator has sought to increase the minimum wage.

Here is Leach's comment about the bill:

"The tipped minimum wage hasn't changed in 23 years and allows business owners to take advantage of low-wage, disproportionately female workers, even demanding they do untipped work like dish washing and cleaning bathrooms for $2.83 an hour. Pennsylvania's economy will grow as over 1 million workers in PA would see their wages rise if we pass this bill. Twenty years of research has shown that in states that have increased the minimum wage, small businesses had lower turnover and increased productivity."

Stack added: "Adjusting the minimum wage to account for inflation prevents working families from being trapped in poverty and reduces dependence on public assistance."

I think we can agree those are all good points.

Then, late in the week, the PA Chamber of Business and Industry weighed in on the topic:

"There is no denying the negative impact that another government-mandated wage increase would have on small businesses and many of their employees," said Todd Brysiak, chamber spokesman. "The Congressional Budget Office report that was released in February showed that a minimum wage increase to $10.10 could cost more than 500,000 jobs, and the bulk of this projected job loss would impact lower-wage workers. Moving to a $12-an-hour minimum wage would only compound this effect."

I think we can agree those all are good points, too.

As a business owner, you can give raises only when you have carefully budgeted for it and — let's be frank here — when you're turning a profit and can afford it. To have the big hand of government step in and slap another regulation on your company about how you spend your money and how much you must spend would be a blow to innumerable small businesses. Certainly, there is precedent for that happening, but that doesn't make it any less difficult for you and your business today.

So I am torn on this subject (as, I suspect, many people are). What do you think? Should the minimum wage be raised? If so, to how much per hour? Should tipped employees be earning minimum wage? What has been your experience with instituting government-mandated raises and benefits coverage?

Amy Gulli

Amy Gulli

Amy Gulli is the managing editor of the Central Penn Business Journal. Have a question or tip for her? Email her at amy@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @amygulli. Circle Amy Gulli on .

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