Archived Story

A gradual approach

Published 6:52pm Saturday, April 26, 2014

While it’s hard not to justify an increase from the $7.25 minimum wage, the Legislature’s decision to increase it by more than 30 percent to $9.50 per hour, especially in Greater Minnesota, is excessive.

For the most part, we agree with Sen. Dan Sparks’ take on the issue.

“I agreed that we needed to raise the minimum wage; I just think that $9.50 may be a little too high and might be implemented a little too fast,” Sparks told the Herald earlier this month. Sparks voted against the measure in the Senate.

Lawmakers tend to put off issues like this for several years before passing larger increases, which are more likely to have adverse effects on employers.

A gradual approach for raising the minimum wage makes more sense than a 30 percent increase.

The fact is, the minimum wage increase affects Greater Minnesota far more than the Twin Cities metro area, where starting wages are typically above minimum due to market conditions stemming from a higher cost of living. It also raises concerns for border counties like Mower and Freeborn counties, which have to compete with Iowa, where the federal $7.25 wage threshold is still in place.

Jobs that pay the minimum wage are typically either those who rely on tips for much of their income or low-skill jobs.

The increase will certainly mean lost profits and potential business investments, and the jobs those investments would create, for business owners.

No one wants to pay low wages to employees, but it’s an economic reality that some jobs need to be low paying.

If politicians want to get involved, they would be better off expanding job training programs for employees who make minimum wage.

Such programs would benefit both the employee and current and potential employers.

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