A hot topic on the minds of people around the USA right now are the states that have raised their minimum wages to meet with the cost of living demands in multiple regions. As of January 1st of 2014 (New York December 31, 2013), fourteen states made the minimum wage increase official. This comes as part of proposed salary legislation up for consideration in the House and Senate to increase the federal minimum wage in 2014, as included in the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012. Things are looking up for millions of workers who are in jobs that pay minimum wage in the states that have decided to move forward and increase the wage now.
However, there are always two sides of the story, and some experts still think that the minimum wage is not enough to support a growing number of working class poor in America. Employers are also concerned, worried that the wage increases combined with the costs of Obamacare will send them heading for bankruptcy.
Is the Minimum Wage Fair in these States?
The question remains: “Is the federal minimum wage fair?” And of the states that have recently raised their state minimum wages, are they going to make a difference towards making the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) wages reasonable?
First, let’s look at a few of the pros and cons of the minimum wage increases, from both the employee and employer standpoint.
Pros and Cons for Employees
While employees are rejoicing in the states that are increasing their minimum wages in 2014, there are some concerns that this may cause negative effects too.
- Extra earnings each week for the same amount of hours worked means the budget stretches further.
- Higher starting rate for those entering new careers or switching career paths with limited experience.
- The opportunity to save more towards retirement and pay for new medical insurance requirements.
- Employees paid slightly higher than new minimum wage may feel deserving of a raise too.
- Increase in wages may make some families ineligible for certain state funded welfare programs.
- Dual-earner families still struggle to make ends meet as home prices, transportation and day care costs continue to rise.
Pros and Cons for Employers
In terms of managing the costs of hiring and payroll, it comes as no surprise that the recent increase in minimum wages in the participating states may be viewed in a negative light by employers. However, some employers say differently.
- Employers have access to a happier, more compensated workforce which increases overall productivity.
- The increase in hourly salary gives employers access to more qualified candidates for new jobs.
- Employees can use more of their earnings for health insurance and work related costs.
- Cost for labor of each new hire increasing causing a reduced budget for other HR related programs.
- Small businesses will bear the brunt of minimum wage hikes as they often employ low paid workers.
- Some experts believe raising the minimum wage discourages hiring and encourages overworked employees.
- Increased minimum wages do not solve the growing problem of poverty in America.
Whatever your opinion may be, in some of the states that have recently increased their minimum wage rates, this action has been long overdue. Fairness is difficult to determine, but for those employees who have gone without due to substandard wages in many states, the raise is just enough to make a difference.