Business Owners Call for Minimum Wage Raise As Federal Minimum Stuck Below 1950 Labor Day Buying Power

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 2, 2015
CONTACT: Bob Keener, bob@businessforafairminimumwage.org, 617-610-6766

Business owners and executives across America are calling for an increase in the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 – just $15,080 a year – since 2009. This Labor Day, the federal minimum wage will be worth less than it was on Labor Day 1950 when the minimum wage was $7.43, adjusted for inflation. It will have one-third less buying power than the minimum wage of 1968 ($10.97 in 2015 dollars). Business leaders say the erosion in the national wage floor is hurting businesses and undermining our economy.

“It’s a real sign of economic backwardness that the minimum wage had more buying power on Labor Day 1950 than it does today, said Holly Sklar, CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. “Workers are also consumers, and businesses need customers who can afford what they are selling. While it’s important that numerous states and cities have enacted increases, we need to raise the federal minimum wage so that all Americans can benefit from an adequate wage floor, whether they live in Massachusetts or Mississippi.”

“Local businesses like ours thrive and grow when customers have money to spend,” said Ned Atwater, Owner of Atwater’s, a Baltimore-based bakery and café. “Raising the minimum wage will increase consumer spending and strengthen the economy. I supported Maryland's minimum wage increase and I support raising the federal minimum wage.”

Scott Fleming is President of Replacements, Ltd in Greensboro, NC, the world’s largest retailer of old and new china, crystal, silver and collectibles. He said, “Our employees drive our success, so it is important that we pay a livable wage. No person should struggle to make ends meet after putting in 40 or more hours a week.”

Doug Havron, Owner of Gabby’s Burgers and Fries in Nashville, said, “Raising the minimum wage is good business. Paying people good money leads to better service and self-motivated behaviors. It is smart in the short and long run.”

“Employees who are well compensated work better and stay longer – a very important contributor to the success of my business,” said Rachael Solem, President and General Manager, Irving House Inn, Cambridge, MA. “It makes no sense to expect people to work without earning enough money for rent, food, transport or medical attention. These employees are stressed out, resentful, and just not at their best.”

Rick Karp, President of Cole Hardware in San Francisco, said, “Raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do. The minimum wage in our business is already $13 per hour. We expect our staff to provide the best service to our customers. It's important that we treat them similarly. When workers have more money to live on, our customers have more money to spend. It is a clear win-win!”

“My staff’s dedication to my business led to me being awarded the 2014 Kentucky Small Business Person of the Year,” said Thomas Cornett, Owner of Bleed Blue Tattoo in Lexington, where the city council will be considering a minimum wage raise later this month. “We run our business on a highly professional level. I support my staff as much as I can so they may support my business as much as they can. That’s why we are successful with continued growth.”

Kristin Kohn, Owner of Silver in the City in Indianapolis said, “Retail employees work hard, including nights, weekends and holidays. They shouldn’t need another job to make ends meet. My employees take pride in their work and ownership in our reputation. They provide me with the freedom to plan ahead for the future success of my business. Reinvesting in our human resources has made a huge difference in the quality of employees and quality of life for me and my family.”

Gary Johnson, President of American Floors and Interiors in Toledo, OH, said, “I believe that people always have been and always will be our most precious assets in business. And making sure they can meet the needs of their families is an important part of every business owner’s responsibility. Minimum wage earners and the middle class spend the majority of their earnings, and that's what rejuvenates the economy.”

Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is gathering signatures of business owners and executives on a sign-on statement supporting a federal minimum wage increase to at least $12 by 2020. Initial signers include hundreds of small and large businesses such as Ben & Jerry's, Amalgamated Bank, Eileen Fisher, New Belgium Brewing, Boloco, Replacements Ltd, ABC Carpet & Home, Zingerman's, Earth Friendly Products/ECOS, Pi Pizzeria, Joe Coffee, Uncommon Goods, Trillium Asset Management, Calhoun Enterprises, Beanfields Snacks, American Floors & Interiors, American Income Life, La Quercia meats, Wild Bird Habitat Stores, Glee Gum, W.S. Badger Company, Raygun Shirts, Equal Exchange, Greyston Bakery, Irving House Inn, Lamey Wellehan Shoes, Bright Start Childcare, Gabby’s Burgers and Fries, West Paw Design, IceStone, Sea to Table, Girard, Mom's Organic Market, LetterLogic, Vintage Vinyl, Atwater's, Santa Fe Culinaria, Sunlight & Power, Silver in the City, Dimo's Pizza, Hollister Staffing, Piedmont Biofuels, Sound Native Plants, Linemark Printing, Liddabit Sweets, independent Ace Hardware Stores such as Logan Hardware, Canton Ace Hardware, Old Town Ace Hardware, Cole Hardware and Annie's Ace Hardware, Bleed Blue Tatoo (Kentucky Small Business Person of the Year), Metaphrasis (Illinois Small Business Person of the Year), 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.

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.

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

GRAPHIC: a graphic comparing 1950, 1968 and current federal minimum wage is available upon request.

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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Editor’s/Producer’s Note: Members of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage across the country are available for comment and/or broadcast booking. Please contact Bob Keener, 617-610-6766, bob@businessforafairminimumwage.org.

 

 

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