Kovar Capital: $15 Minimum Wage


Hey Taylor - All this talk about hiking the minimum wage up to $15 an hour. On the one hand, I see the need for a good wage. On the other, I’m not sure about that being mandated. What are your thoughts?

Hey Jim - This has become one of the hotter topics of late. You mention the two main talking points, which I feel could probably be addressed if everyone would agree to a sensible conversation. At the risk of oversimplifying the issue, here’s one way to break it down.

• People need a decent wage. That’s the argument in favor of hiking the minimum wage, and I don’t think you’ll find anyone who opposes that line of thinking. If someone is putting in a forty-hour workweek, that person should be able to support themselves. As a business owner, I consider it an important responsibility to support the people I employ. For a great many of us, a change in the minimum wage wouldn’t have that much of an effect because we’re already paying well over $15/hour. I feel that any employer who underpays his or her staff to cut costs is doing their company a disservice. In that sense, I support a respectable minimum wage.

• Every situation is different. In many cases, seasonal work is given out to teenagers and part-time workers who just come in to help with some simple tasks. Those people aren’t looking to make a ton of money and do fine on whatever wage they’re given. If a minimum wage increase killed off those jobs, that would be a huge setback for both the employers and the workers. Small businesses tend to get rolled over with these sweeping regulations. In an effort to help some people make a little more money, we can’t just let other people’s livelihood become collateral damage.

• Solution? Fortunately, I’m not in charge of legislating a fix. I can’t imagine a perfect solution coming at the federal level; it’s even hard to think of a one-size-fits-all wage increase at the state or local level that would keep everyone happy. I will say it’s a good conversation to be having. Maybe some employers will realize they can afford to pay a little more, and some wage increase advocates will see the smaller companies that can only afford what they currently pay. If we can avoid hasty legislation and still lift up the people in need, that sounds like a good outcome to me.

What works for one company doesn’t always work for another, which makes this whole minimum wage thing a conundrum. This issue affects too many people for there to be a quick fix, so it’s safe to assume the debate will carry on. Thanks for writing in, Jim!

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