The other side of minimum wage

Thoughts from Behind the Pressline

In last week’s paper, our editorial board took a stand on increasing the minimum wage.

Making such an adjustment is not nearly as easy as it sounds. Yes, with the pound of the gavel and swipe of the pen, a law can be enacted to raise the minimum wage, but the effects on the economy and jobs would not have the effect many are looking to see.

A drastic 45 percent increase in the minimum wage to $10.50 would be as much a shock to the economy as the Affordable Health Care Act is currently having on the state of health care in our country. Minimum wage is designed as an entry-level starting point. This country was built on capitalism and a supply and demand approach to the cost of everything.

You might say shame on employers who keep hardworking employees at minimum wage, but if there wasn’t an over abundance of supply -- in other words, employees willing to fill those positions -- employers would be forced to increase the wage in order to fill those jobs and keep employees who have a proven value. In turn, employees need to understand that minimum wage is an entry-level job that generally requires little skill. Employees take these jobs to develop skills that will allow them to seek higher paying positions.

Many companies have positions that can be handled by those with few skills and are willing to operate with a revolving door of people coming and going. Their business plans are built on the premise that anyone can do the job and they will not pay more than the minimum required by law because even the most talented person can’t do the labor-intensive job much better regardless of how long they choose to retain the position.

Now before you tar and feather me, please understand my point. The major problem with minimum wage is that it hasn’t kept pace over the years and it can’t be fixed all at once without upsetting the economy and having devastating affects on the workforce.

Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at dan@newmarketpressvt.com or dan@denpubs.com.

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