Quartz: Minimum wages are going up across the US this year

By Camille Squires
Quartz, Jan 4, 2022

Minimum-wage workers across the US are getting a pay bump in 2022. Higher minimum wage laws took effect across 21 states and 35 cities in the US on Jan. 1. It’s the largest simultaneous increase of sub-national minimum wage policy in US history, according to the National Employment Law Project. ...

“A lot of business owners haven’t really run the numbers to see just how much they can save with a higher wage floor,” says Alissa Barron-Menza, vice president of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, a non-profit organization that advocates for a higher minimum wage. “Increases in consumer spending, decreases in turnover, and the increase in employee productivity and morale... offset the increased wages and help businesses be more resilient and successful in the long term.”

Some small business owners who have elected to raise their wages can attest to this; John Schall is a member of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage and owner of a chain of Mexican restaurants across several northeastern states. Schall sets starting hourly wages between $12.50 and $14.25, and pays many of his employees above $15 per hour. As a result, he has retained a consistent staff of experienced workers who work efficiently and turnover less frequently.

For Schall, having higher wages and low turnover has also meant strong employee networks that came in handy during the pandemic. Schall says his restaurants didn’t see large numbers of people quitting, as happened across the service industry, and when he opened a new location in 2021, offering competitive wages allowed him to staff up quickly and build a reliable worker network there too.

Across the US, low-wage workers in leisure and hospitality have seen the greatest wage gains of any group in 2021. Schall believes this change is here to stay, and that more state and local minimum wage increases would codify the change.

“That way of seeing staff as disposable is coming to an end,” says Schall. “A state law would put employers on the same footing and have everyone competing [for employees] by the same rules.”

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