Friday Will Mark 6 Years Since Last Federal Minimum Wage Increase; Business Owners Call for Raise

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 20, 2015
CONTACT: Bob Keener, bob@businessforafairminimumwage.org, 617-610-6766

WASHINGTON, DC – This Friday, July 24, will mark six years since the federal minimum wage was last increased in 2009. Business leaders say the delay in raising the minimum wage is bad for businesses and our economy as well as for workers.

“Businesses need customers who can afford what they are selling, but today’s minimum wage has less buying power than it had in 1950,” said Holly Sklar, CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. “We can’t build a strong economy on a weak wage foundation.”

Mike Draper, owner of Raygun shirt company in Des Moines, Iowa City and Kansas City, MO, said, “An economy thrives when people have money to spend. Raising the minimum wage is the best way to get more people more money to spend in businesses.”

Business for a Fair Minimum Wage has launched a new sign-on statement for business owners and executives supporting a federal minimum wage increase to at least $12 by 2020. Inaugural signers include hundreds of small and large businesses such as Ben & Jerry's, New Belgium Brewing, Eileen Fisher, Replacements Ltd, Earth Friendly Products/ECOS, ABC Carpet & Home, Uncommon Goods, Zingerman's, Pi Pizzeria, Beanfields Snacks, Glee Gum, Boloco, Joe Coffee, Raygun Shirts, A Few Cool Hardware Stores, W.S. Badger, Sea To Table, Greyston Bakery, La Quercia, Lamey Wellehan Shoes, IceStone, Dimo's Pizza, Vintage Vinyl, Gabby’s Burgers & Fries, West Paw Design, Equal Exchange, Liddabit Sweets, LetterLogic, Rhiza, Annie's Ace Hardware, Mom's Organic Market, Sunlight & Power, Trillium Asset Management, Fresh Hair, Linemark Printing and organizations like the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity and the American Sustainable Business Council, which with its member organizations represents more than 200,000 businesses.

The Raise the Wage Act, introduced recently by Senator Patty Murray (WA) and Rep. Robert C. Scott (VA), would increase the federal minimum wage in five steps to $12 by 2020 and then automatically increase the minimum wage at the same pace as the median wage beginning in 2021.

Gina Schaefer, Owner of A Few Cool Hardware Stores, a group of ten Ace Hardware stores in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia, said, “Fair wages help us attract and retain good employees, increase sales, expand our business and hire more employees. The critics have it backwards! Keeping the minimum wage down is hurting business. Raising it will help business.”

More than 35 million workers would see increased wages if the federal minimum wage were raised to $12 by 2020 (that’s more than one out of four workers). The average age of affected workers is 36 years old and nearly half have at least some college experience, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The average affected worker would earn about $2,300 more a year.

Business support for raising the minimum wage is based on experience that higher wages at the bottom have real bottom line benefits. These include increased consumer spending, lower staff turnover, reduced hiring and training costs, increased productivity and better customer service. In addition, business owners say a minimum wage increase will reduce the unfair competition that results when companies pay wages that are not enough to live on and pass the buck to the public safety net.

Sherry Deutschmann, Founder and CEO of LetterLogic in Nashville, TN, one of America’s fastest growing companies, said, “Our company has thrived with the belief that if we take good care of our employees, they will take great care of our customers. We don't depend on other businesses and taxpayers to subsidize our profits by underwriting food stamps and other safety net assistance for our employees. The very least other businesses can do is pay a wage that allows their employees to afford the basics. A minimum wage raise is overdue.”

The most rigorous studies of the impact of actual minimum wage increases show they do not cause job loss.

At its current rate of $7.25 per hour – just $15,080 a year for fulltime work – the minimum wage has less buying power than it had in 1950, and a third less than in 1968, adjusted for inflation. In 2015 dollars, the 1968 minimum wage would be $10.97 while the 1950 minimum wage would be $7.43 (latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator).

Members of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage across the country are available for comment and/or television and radio booking. Please contact Bob Keener, 617-610-6766, bob@businessforafairminimumwage.org.

Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a national network of business organizations, owners and executives who believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense.

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