I'm sure I've made it quite clear about my feelings on minimum wage in the past, so it won't be a big surprise that I'm not ecstatic about Christy Clark's recent announcement. It appears that it will be increasing by 75 cents every 6 months starting May until it reaches 10.25 by May 2012. As well the training wage will be abolished.
Minimum wage is always such a political topic, but I don't understand who it truly helps. I don't know a single person earning minimum wage so I don't understand who exactly is shouting for an increase. We always hear it is to help the poor people, but are there people truly starting at minimum wage and then waiting for it to go up? I always thought you worked hard and you are given raises. Generally we start young and gain experience and trade that experience for higher wages, but maybe I'm wrong.
What I do know is that I haven't had a raise in over 4 years. I also know that higher wages means higher costs, which means my expenses are going to go up accordingly. Having run a business (although admittedly for a very very short time), I also know that businesses have limited resources and can only afford to hire so many people. The higher the cost, the less individuals get work.
I guess one benefit (or downside depending on your view) of a higher wage is that it makes replacing people with technology more feasible. I'm sure you've noticed the self-check out lanes and pay at the pump gas stations. Sure, the low skilled workers will be without work, but these technologies provide more jobs for the skilled and highly educated work force like engineers.
Not only are you getting an increase if you make $8.00 an hour, but basically anyone earning less than $10.50 an hour will be getting an increase by law. Hopefully the companies can afford to give the people above that a raise too. Imagine the people that have worked hard to earn that $11.00 an hour, only to see a 16 year old just hired at $10.50 an hour with no experience.
Everything has consequences, and this is so obvious to me that it will increase everyone's costs to the point that the raise is meaningless. In the end, cost increases will follow the wage increases until $10.50 buys the same that $8.00 did and everyone is back in the same situation all over again.
Why are we rewarding those that don't gain skills or experience? Wouldn't it make more sense to provide incentives to go to school, learn a trade, to work harder?
I'm sure there are some exceptions. A mother, suddenly single, with no skills, forced into the work force for the first time perhaps. However, these groups are identifiable, unlike the masses receiving minimum wage including 16 year old boys and girls. Wouldn't childcare assistance for single parents be more cost effective in this situation? I have no issues with a lot of these ideas.
Maybe I'm wrong. There do seem to be a great deal of people that agree with a minimum wage. I just find it frustrating that it is used for political purposes, when I don't know who it is that we are truly helping.
I'd love to hear your views on this, especially if you disagree. What I really want to hear is who these people that we are supposedly helping are. Do you know any poor earning this wage personally? Is there a reason they need this help? Is raising the minimum wage the only way to help them?
Update: On my search to see who these people are I stumbled across these stats: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/studies-etudes/75-001/comm/5018829-eng.pdf
- Just over 6% of workers in BC earn minimum wage.
- The lower the minimum wage the less people earning it or less.
- The average hourly rate is much higher than the minimum.
- Over 56% of those earning minimum wage are 19 or younger.
- Almost 25% of those earning minimum wage were part of a couple with the other earning more than minimum wage.
- For most it is a transitional period.
Well there are clearly some people who truly need the money and are earning minimum wage will be struggling. However, does it make sense to raise the amount for everyone involved when most don't need to live off of that money. Choices have consequences, so should we as country take away those consequences? Approximately 2.6% of BC's population chose not to get a post secondary degree, chose to work in the service industry, and haven't been able to excel in that industry to achieve pay raises. Why should small businesses be forced to pay higher wages to 16 year old kids because of this small group? If the average wage is $19/hours, why are they earning $8?