Mailbag: The Minimum Wage

Apr 18, 2010 | Government News

A member of a Local Chamber wrote: 

Microsoft Word - Document9As primarily a seasonal business, I hire about 22 students a year, I mean high school and junior high students that weren’t worth $8.50. Now I am paying them $9 and soon to be $9.50, why can we not have a student minimum wage to at least 17? 

In a small town it is difficult to get a seasonal worker that is an adult, as let’s hope they are working year round! I am forced to hire students. 

My payroll/payroll expenses last year were over $120 000.00 with over $75 000 going to kids under 18. Do you know how hard it is to get a days work out of a fifteen year old? And there are not enough 16-18 year olds that want to actually do any work. And the university students don’t last long in a small town after a taste of freedom and the big city.  

There is no doubt that the $75 000 went right back into the economy as very few saved any money but I can tell you, my take home was dramatically less and it is getting to the point where I am asking myself why am I doing this? I could be taking home more money and have less small business hassle, working for someone else. 

Do you know how hard it is to run a young staff of 22? 7 years ago, my first year in business I had 3 employees, last year I made out 27 t-4’s, how many times have I asked myself, is it the lack of employee production that has swelled my staff? Yes my sales have doubled but shouldn’t that mean I need 6 staff instead of 3? I am forced now to install cameras in my work place as I can’t be everywhere and still do my own work. Small businesses are going to become a thing of the past as the next generation does not have enough people in it with the kind of work ethic it takes to run a small business. 

I have had great satisfaction in being able to provide needed jobs to young people. We have paid more than minimum wage in most cases except a first year washing job. With the last few raises in minimum wage we have seen the first year employees quickly raise to what the above minimum wage earners should see as an increase; they have quickly caught up and now the question is, “what do I pay those that I value more because they have a few years experience”? Last year they were making $9.25 and $9.50, now what?   

Things seem to be out of my control at this point but we will adjust as we have adjusted to the high cost of fuel. We will work longer hours to make up for some of the positions we just can’t afford this year as we have had to eliminate 2 jobs for post high school girls or approximately 1300 hours spread over 4 months and 2 for boys of less hours.  

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