Minimum Wage Campaign to Start in Earnest This Week

February 10, 2014

Supporters of the effort to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $9.50 per hour are expected to file their petitions with the Secretary of State today (Monday, Feb. 10) and begin collecting signatures to put the issue on the November 2014 ballot. The Michigan Chamber is strongly opposed to this proposal.

The proposal is expected to phase in the $9.50 per hour minimum wage over three years and index it to inflation. It also would raise wages of tip workers by $.85 cents per year until it reaches $9.50. To place the issue on the November ballot, proponents must turn in at least 258,609 valid signatures from Michigan voters by July 7.

The Michigan Chamber is concerned about the damaging economic realities of the proposal. If Michigan increases the cost of employing entry-level workers,lower-skilled workers will see less job opportunities because employers will be forced to hire higher-skilled job applicants to fill multiple roles or cut jobs to absorb the costs associated with the increase. Furthermore, we are concerned about the upward pressure this proposal will place on other wages in the labor market. Any increase in the minimum wage has a spillover effect on workers who currently earn just above the minimum wage.

Currently, Michigan is one of 21 states that has a minimum wage rate higher than the federal minimum wage. Michigan job providers are doing their best to provide the highest wage possible to their workers because they know it is the best way to attract and retain a quality workforce. Given that Michigan currently has an 8.4 percent unemployment rate, we believe government and voters should be focused on policies to help workers get jobs, not actively increasing the cost of hiring workers and creating barriers to entry.

If you’d like further information or to get involved in this issue, please contact Wendy Block, Director of Health Policy & Human Resources, at 517/371-7678 or wblock@michamber.com.