OUR VIEW: Don’t go too far with raise in minimum wage
Count us among those who would like to double their salary in the coming year.
That’s what some of the nation’s fast-food workers are demanding, even going so far as to stage strikes and protests in 60 U.S. cities recently. The workers are seeking a pay raise from the federally mandated $7.25 per hour to $15.
Yes, we too want our wages to double. Of course, we work in the private sector in a capitalistic nation, so we suspect our own request won’t be granted anytime soon.
We could go back to school and earn higher degrees. We could move to a geographic area that generally is not last in the nation in wages for most every profession. We could work harder and put in longer hours in an effort to get ahead.
Either way, the choice is ours. And it’s our employer’s choice to pay us double our current salary or to find someone else willing to work at our current rate. Our money is on the latter.
It’s harsh, but we do not agree with large raises in the federal minimum wage. At present, it’s $7.25 per hour, which comes to only $15,080 annually. We know it’s not much, but it is what it is.
It’s also quite a bit higher than it was even in recent years. In early 2007, the national minimum wage was $5.15. It raised that year to $5.85 and by summer 2008 it was $6.55. It jumped again in 2009, to $7.25, where it stands today.
That stair-stepping process accounted for a raise of nearly 41 percent in two years.
Workers deserve a fair wage and we truly believe that. We also believe that small businesses are the backbone of South Dakota, and radical leaps in the minimum wage aren’t fair to the people who have labored to make those businesses successful.
The South Dakota Democratic Party and some labor unions are seeking a statewide vote to raise the minimum wage to $8.50 in January 2015. The measure would raise the minimum wage each year after that to make up for annual inflation.
We hope it doesn’t happen. Whereas we can stomach inflationary raises on occasion, flat-out raises of more than 2 or 3 percent — and raises that occur automatically every year, without fresh consideration by voters or lawmakers — are unwise and an example of government interfering too much with private business.