September 19, 2014
By Ashley Boncimino The S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce announced its endorsement of a $10.10 federal minimum wage, a nearly 40% increase from the current $7.25 per hour. The organization’s stance would increase the minimum wage over 2 1/2 years.
“Our state badly needs a boost in consumer demand, which is how Main Street businesses grow.” Small Business Chamber President and CEO Frank Knap Jr. said in a statement. “Per capita income has fallen by nearly 3% in the last five years. That’s the wrong direction. Wall Street might be booming, but that isn’t helping Main Street.”
Knapp said 61% of small-business owners support higher minimum wages.
S.C. Chamber of Commerce Associate Vice President of Communications Julie Scott said her organization is not in support of minimum wage increases because of the negative impact on business.
“Raising the minimum wage can have a substantially negative impact on business costs and job creation,” she said in an email. “As employers deal with these increased costs, naturally, job creation suffers.”
Knapp said increasing the minimum wage would help business by increasing the buying power of the estimated 300,000 people who make less than $10.10 per hour in the state. That estimate is from the Economic Policy Institute.
It’s estimated the impact on South Carolina will be $711 million, or a $450 million increase in gross domestic product for the state, according to a news release.
The Small Business Chamber of Commerce said the estimated $711 million impact on the state includes the additional 150,000 employees expected to receive increases as a result of adjusted wage structures.
The S.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association said a higher wage could force firms to reduce employee hours, slow new hiring efforts and reduce the overall number of employees.
The organization said it agreed with the National Restaurant Association’s stance against increasing the minimum wage, saying 58% of restaurant operators increased menu prices and 41% reduced employee hours following the 2007 minimum wage increase.
“Additionally, the SCRLA is concerned because many young people across the country look to the hospitality industry for their first jobs, said S.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association President and CEO John Durst in a statement. “A mandatory wage increase could also further restrict opportunities for young and less skilled individuals.”
The S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce said it would also support S.C. legislators setting a state minimum wage that was higher than the federal minimum wage.
Knapp said that while many large businesses would not support a higher federal minimum wage, many small businesses already pay their workers higher than the mandated minimum in order to reduce employee turnover and remain competitive.
Knapp said organizations that pay their employees higher than the federal minimum wage tend to have happier employees and better businesses. Knapp cited In-N-Out Burger on the West Coast and Costco Wholesale Corp., the CEO and president of which has reportedly come out in support of a $10.10 federal minimum wage. Knapp also mentioned the city of Seattle, which passed an ordinance that would raise the minimum wage to $15 over a period of seven years.
“How can Costco get away with it and they’re doing pretty well, but Target can’t?” said Knapp. “This is about growing our local economy and putting money in the hands of people who will spend it on Main Street … We’re talking about the business side of this.”