Letter to the Editor: Could a $15 minimum wage hurt small businesses?

Local business owner questions whether an across-the-board minimum wage hike will negatively affect smaller businesses.

As a small business owner I do everything I can to pay a fair wage for the work my employees perform. But I have to consider the costs of running the business and I use bonuses and vacation pay to compensate employees because as wages rise so too do workers’ compensation insurance rates and taxes.

So with a set minimum of $15 per hour the employee will see a little more in their paycheck but I would have to reduce or eliminate the bonus and vacation pay. I would also have to increase prices to spread out the impact of the wage hike because what little I make would not be enough to absorb the cost.

I think minimum wage at $10 per hour gives employers an opportunity to hire and train employees and provides ample room for performance-based increases as the worker is retained. It also provides employees the motivation to seek additional training, education and skill building to advance their income.

Minimum wage jobs should be for people who are new to the workforce or looking for a supplemental income, not for breadwinners who need to support a family. We need to do more to create more complex and challenging jobs that require additional skills so that people can work their way up to an income that will support the lifestyle of their choosing.

Understanding what a minimum wage is all about is important. It is meant to put a floor under the employee so they are not taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers who pay as little as possible to increase profits. My business depends on good, reliable and trustworthy people so I start them at $10. If I had to start them at $15 I’d most likely reduce the size of my business and go into a contraction because the effects would be less workers trying to handle the same amount of customers, potential quality issues and the resulting loss of business.

Perhaps the wage hike should only apply to businesses over a certain size. Surely for those of us with less than five employees it would be devastating.

Rita Strough

Owner/operator Ivy League Cleaning