Gubernatorial Candidates Push $15 Minimum Wage

Date: April 04, 2017

As the gubernatorial race heats up, both Democratic candidates have called for the state to adopt a $15 minimum wage. These announcements came in conjunction with separate visits to Reagan National Airport, where workers are seeking unionization as well as a $15 minimum wage.

Virginia currently uses the federal rate of $7.25. In 2016, New York approved a measure that implemented stairstep increases to $15 per hour, as did D.C. and California. Currently, legislators in nearby Maryland are also embroiled in a battle to hike the minimum wage.

Although proponents champion minimum wage increases on behalf of struggling workers, the unfortunate fact is that many of these workers end up being harmed by such proposals because of the tough decisions forced upon small business owners, who employ many minimum-wage workers and don’t have the profit margins to sustain such large wage increases.

For example, the website Faces of 15, a project of the Employment Policies Institute and MinimumWage.com, presents countless examples of business closures, reduced hours, employee layoffs, and customer price increases as a result of mandated wage hikes. One such story is from Washington, D.C., where the Wegmans supermarket chain decided to pull out of a planned redevelopment because of the city’s new $15 minimum wage as well as proposed regulations, such as part-time worker scheduling and paid family leave.

A Forbes opinion piece echoed this sentiment, noting that even economists who support a higher minimum wage emphasize that it should be tailored to local economic conditions. For many areas of Virginia, a $15 minimum wage would significantly impact the local economy by forcing employers to drastically alter prices, quality, or other costs in order to absorb the labor cost increase.

 

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