I was reading a Facebook post yesterday, and someone had posted an exchange they had with an employee where the employee seemed to misunderstand the concept of giving a two-week notice. At the end of the exchange the guy writes, “The thought of someone having to soon pay this person $15/hr is mind-boggling.”
Someone else added, “I guess the only math they know is their hourly wage… but even that won’t give them a work ethic.”
Leaving aside a lot of possibilities here, I have a big problem with this mentality. Yes, I can understand those who, on principle, oppose minimum wage because they believe the market rather than the government should dictate wages.
But at the core – no one is forcing you to pay this particular person $15 per hour. The management makes the decision on whom to hire. Right now we have a buyer’s market in that there are far more people seeking work than positions open to them. So, at the end of the day, hire someone who can do a good job and bring a good work ethic, and then you don’t have to worry about paying a bad employee too much money.
The problem that I see is that most people do not know how to hire well. In my view that is understandable, because hiring someone you can predict will do a good job is difficult. Everyone who applies says the right things. Most can find someone who can vouch for them. People who look like they would be good on paper may end up lacking in key things you need.
So I get it – but I consider that to be on me rather than on the government. The government is not forcing me to pay a bad person $15 an hour. And frankly, paying someone who does a bad job $9 or $10 an hour is no better.
I strongly support the $15 minimum wage. It will end up benefiting those who are able to identify and can hire good employees.
Fifteen dollars is definitely coming, but it’s not coming tomorrow. In April, California and New York became the first states to go to a $15 minimum wage – but California won’t get to $15 an hour until 2022. In New York, it will be by 2021.
Recently, the Bernie Sanders folks gained approval from the Democratic platform committee to commit to a $15 minimum wage with an index for inflation.
Is that sort of lead time enough to allow businesses to adjust to the increased costs? The pattern of many minimum wage increases is that businesses initially lay people off and then end up adjusting and rehiring. What would be different here is speed and amount of the increase, coupled with the indexing for inflation.
This has led some to speculate that businesses will invest in automation systems that right now are too expensive but would be justifiable in the face of wage increases.
I have three thoughts on that. First, I think we are headed that way anyway, and this simply hastens the move. Businesses becoming more efficient may not be a bad thing anyway.
Second, while automation will be a temptation, companies that keep employees to interface with the customers will have a competitive advantage. A lot of companies now market themselves on having a personal touch.
Third, minimum wage is a tricky issue. Right now the wage is not enough to live on. By increasing the minimum you may end up with fewer people in the labor force, but those in it get a better wage and are able to better afford to live off that wage.
The hope for those who support such a wage is that this situation ends up lifting everyone up, causes the economy to expand, and, in the second wave, the labor force deepens and erases the loss of jobs caused by the initial hike.
Whether that will play out will depend on whom you ask.
—David M. Greenwald reporting