President Barrack Obama was in Michigan yesterday to discuss multiple issues, most prominent among them being minimum wage.
The President supports the notion of increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. Though the proposal will be executed in stages and spread over two years, the Republicans appear to be strongly opposing the same. Obama appears to be on the side of the working class even as a coalition of groups collected signatures for a minimum wage increase.
However, the US President doesn’t seem to enjoy undisputed support as the business community is strongly opposing the idea of wage increase. Though no specific reasons for the opposition have officially come forth, the community clearly doesn’t want to pay $ 2.85 extra per hour to its workers who actually are working on minimum wage. However, the Michigan Restaurant Association CEO Brian DeBano did say Raise Michigan’s proposal is “well-intentioned,” but wrong for the state. His justification? “It will increase menu prices, cost Michigan jobs and force many businesses to close their doors,” reported CBS Detroit.
Though Obama has openly endorsed the gradual raise, he still has a strong fight stacked up against him. The Raise Michigan proposal needs to gather 258,000 valid signatures by late next month to put before the Legislature in order to add weight to their argument that increasing minimum wage has a direct beneficial impact on the society. Since small businesses stand to gain the most from the extra spending, the inflation seems to slow down.
Increasing minimum wage would benefit almost a Million workers in Michigan alone. The Legislature being put forth paves way for increasing the state’s minimum wage from $7.40 to $10.10 an hour by 2017. Moreover, the wages will continue to increase as per the inflation index. Additionally, the minimum wage for tipped employees would gradually increase from $2.65 until it reaches the minimum wage for other workers.
Though 34 states are considering raising the minimum wage, Michigan above many could be a truly deserving state as it has been the most severely hit by the economic downturn. The state has lost multiple jobs mostly in the industrial sector and unemployment rate is hovering near 9%.
President Obama has chosen Michigan to appeal primarily because its legislature is majorly controlled by Republicans. Even the Governor, Republican Rick Snyder has openly voiced his reservations against minimum wage. Perhaps Obama could steer an active discussion and rally his grass-root troops on this one?
[Images via CBS Detroit and freep]