EDITORIAL – There’s good cause for concern about minimum wage hike
An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE MINIMUM WAGE will go up again June 1 — the usual anniversary for such increases — and businesses are already crying the blues. But this time they have something to cry about.
In the past, complaints from the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce and just about every other business group about the minimum wage have been overblown.
Raising the minimum wage will affect the viability of businesses, they insist. Higher minimum wages will force big increases in the price of consumer goods, they say.
Countering those traditional arguments is the fact that raising the minimum wage contributes to a more stable workforce by reducing turnover. And there’s the simple fact that higher minimum wage makes life better for a large sector of the workforce.
The arguments of the past against minimum wage increases have been largely based on false assumptions and have sounded rather hollow.
A large percentage of minimum wage employees are in their 20s and 30s working full time. The exception is the food service industry, where the youthful and the retired do make up a major part of the workforce.
In theory, the decision on the wage this year is based on logic — keeping up with inflation. In normal times, it makes sense, but these aren’t normal times.
As we know, inflation has gone out of whack; the minimum wage hike will be unusually high. Not the highest ever, but high enough to fuel inflation instead of respond to it.
One of the main causes of inflation is an increase in costs to businesses. One of the main causes of increased costs to businesses is rising labour rates.
The minimum wage will go up by 6.9 percent to $16.75 per hour. But 6.9 percent was the inflation rate in 2022; it’s been dropping since then, so the new increase doesn’t even reflect today’s reality.
All this newest minimum wage increase will do is give a new boost to inflation.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He has served as mayor of Kamloops, school board chair and TNRD director, and is a retired newspaper editor. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Apparently businesses actually do pretty well when inflation increases. They use this as an excuse to hike their prices and then pull in a tidy profit. A minimum wage of $16.75 per hour is still not going to be enough in this city to pay the rent. At this rate, you’re still paying more than half your earnings on housing, assuming one can find a place for $1500 per month which might be wishful thinking these days. Then there is the cost of feeding oneself, which has also increased is never going to come down. Why is it that the folks who have comfortable existences feel threatened by a minimum wage hike? Relative the relief is gives to the legions of people living paycheck to paycheck, what dire consequences will it have on the rest of us ? Show me the math Mel on how this is a really bad thing.
I am not an economist, but I am pretty sure that once prices have increased due to inflation, they do not go generally back down once inflation ceases. So if the minimum wage increase were to be less than the rate of inflation, then the purchasing power, and thus the standard of living of the minimum wage workers would decrease. One step forward, two steps back.
If you think that workers’ wages shouldn’t keep pace with inflation you might consider complaining about the increases that are being given out to the employees of all levels of government, who receive pay well above the minimum wage and who might be able to absorb a relative decrease in the purchasing power of their wages.
What makes life better is training. Physical training, mental training, skill training.