North Fulton Times: Georgia Business Leaders Cheer Raise In Minimum Wage

North Fulton Times, 7/24/07

July 20, 2007, Georgia – On July 24, for the first time in ten years, the federal minimum wage will go up – marking the end of the longest period without a raise since the minimum wage was enacted in 1938. Many Georgia workers will get a raise from $5.15 to $5.85 next week. Contrary to conventional wisdom, many businesses are cheering the raise.

Lya Sorano, founder of Atlanta Women in Business, said, "In Georgia, one of the reddest of the 'Red States,' one might expect an almost universal denouncement of the raise in the minimum wage. In fact, the opposite is true. Business owners and managers I've spoken with aren't concerned. They're glad the wage is going up because workers deserve it, and they believe it will help our local economy."

The chief executives of Costco, Addus HealthCare, Eileen Fisher apparel company, Small Business Majority, the US Women's Chamber of Commerce, and small business owners from every state, including Georgia, are among those saying a raise for those at the bottom won't hurt the bottom line. As Costco’s CEO Jim Sinegal, has put it: “Raising the minimum wage is good for business.”

States with minimum wages above the federal level have had stronger small business and retail job growth than the other states.

Innkeeper Debi Starnes of Sugar Magnolia Bed & Breakfast in Atlanta, said, "I have owned and managed two businesses for the past 20 years and I have never paid anyone the minimum wage. My businesses have not suffered from that. In fact, my businesses have benefited from employees who have been paid more fairly. I cannot imagine, in 2007, looking someone in the eye and paying them just $5.15 for an hour of their labor -- or $41.20 for a whole day."

The minimum wage is scheduled to rise to $5.85 next week, $6.55 on July 24, 2008 and $7.25 on July 24, 2009. However, the minimum wage has been so eroded over time that even with the new raises; workers will have less buying power than minimum wage workers had half a century ago. Even after rising to $7.25 in 2009, the minimum wage will still be lower than it was in 1956, when it was $7.65 in today's dollars. It will be much lower than it was in 1968, when the minimum wage peaked in value at $9.56 in today's dollars.

In a statement with nearly 800 signers and climbing, business leaders from Georgia and all around the country assert:

“Higher wages benefit business by increasing consumer purchasing power, reducing costly employee turnover, raising productivity, and improving product quality, customer satisfaction and company reputation. We cannot build a strong 21st century economy when more and more hardworking Americans struggle to make ends meet. A fair minimum wage shows we value both work and responsible businesses. A fair minimum wage is a sound investment in the future of our communities and our nation.”

In addition to Lya Sorano and Debi Starnes, other Georgia signers include, among others, Charles Green, president of Sunrise Bank of Atlanta, Margaret Kaiser, owner of Grand Central Pizza in Atlanta; Herbert Eber, president of Psychological Resources in Atlanta, Patrice Dickey, owner of PD Communications in Avondale Estates, Yamini Virani, owner of ActionCoach in Mableton, and David Chastain, president of North Georgia Woodworks in Toccoa.



Share +