Salisbury reacts to increase in minimum wage

4/22/14

BY SHANNON WILEY

Staff Writer

Maryland became the second state to raise its minimum wage standard to $10.10 an hour on Monday, April 7, to match President Obama’s campaign to raise minimum wages nationally.

Although Gov. Martin O’Malley pushed for this standard to be raised by 2016, the Maryland legislature passed a bill that will be enacted by July 2018 with an 87 to 47 vote.

After the bill passed, O’Malley thanked Maryland legislators “for giving so many families the raise they deserve.”

Even though O’Malley is pleased, Maryland residents have mixed feelings.

“It’s scary,” said Pam Ward, owner of the Twisted Pretzel Bakery, the only one of its kind in Salisbury. “As a business owner, the only way to compensate would be to raise prices or cut staff, and neither of them is a good thing.”

The idea behind raising the minimum wage is that if workers get more money in their paychecks, the workers and their families will have more money to put back into the economy, and in turn the economy will be revitalized.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, this raise would increase some families’ incomes enough for them to rise above the federal poverty line. However, some low-wage worker’s jobs will most likely be terminated as a result of the raise.

Many Maryland workers share the view that this raise will stimulate the economy on the state and national level.

“I think it will help the economy, slowly but surely,” said Hardee’s Shift Manager Tykira Osborne.

Other local employees also think that the change will be beneficial to the economy in the future.

   “What I hope is that the economy will be better, so that when workers get $10.10, they’ll have more money to spend and put back into the economy,” said Pat’s Pizza Family Restaurant manager Akram Hamed. “Hopefully it will help more families. I hope prices will stay the same though, because that will affect all prices rising.”

Helping families to get by is the major benefit that many see in the legislation.

“I think it’s a great thing because realistically, you cannot live off minimum wage,” said Salisbury University junior and Cool Beans Barista Angelise Shelby. “$7.25 just isn’t enough even if you were full time.”

Others, though, are not as optimistic.

“I’m against the increase in minimum wage because it will cause businesses to hire fewer people with higher qualifications,” said freshman Rachael Reiter, who works at Mid-Atlantic Gymnastics in Eldersburg, Md. “People our age will be impacted the most because it will be harder to get an entry level job due to our lack of experience.”

The potential decrease in employees isn’t the only thing making people wary of the new law.

“I can’t see it helping, because something has got to give,” said Ward. “If you raise prices, then we’re just in a vicious cycle, it’ll all even out.”

The new law has both good and bad effects for some students currently making minimum wage who are planning on moving into higher paid positions in the near future.

“It would help me a lot (if my paycheck rose),” said SU freshman Bryan Pisarra, an employee at Dairy Queen in Sykesville, Md. “But the thing is, the dollar value would probably drop. Prices will probably go up, so things might just stay the same. I’ll hopefully be making above minimum wage by 2018, so the minimum wage raise won’t affect (me), but the decreased value of the American dollar will.”

The increase will be reached by raising the wage in five increments, starting with an enlargement to $8 an hour by Jan.1, 2015, but individual counties can chose to raise the wage higher more quickly if they wish.

“Step-by-step is a help, but it’s not that we don’t want to pay our employees that much, it’s just that we don’t have a high-end product coming out to help,” Ward said.

For some the change can’t come soon enough.

“I would like it to be done faster because we need money now,” said Osborne. “But other than that it’s good. Right now, the minimum wage doesn’t help at all so this could help a lot of people.”

Nationally, the CBO’s plan for the raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour is in three steps, an increase in 2014, in 2015 and in 2016. Once the raise is fully reached, it would be adjusted annually for inflation.

Before the CBO decided that the $10.10 option would be the best, they examined one other option- one that would raise minimum wage to $9 in two steps rather than three from 2015 to 2016. This would also be adjusted for inflation annually.

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