Submitted as a comment by Disgusting Lies & Propaganda TV on the Minimum Wage (Yes) Timing (No?) blog
The findings of the Minimum Wage Board should really put the specific amount of 8.50/hr min wage in its true perspective. The fact that it is even below their 10/hr recommendation and even below the 12/hr (inflation adjusted) “living wage” just convinces me more that the $8.50 should be implemented sooner rather than later. I may be a little sensitive to timing (in that i would have considered an additional 3-6 months after April 1st) but I don’t support it delayed until Jan 2022 (as Edward Clarke was suggesting). THAT would be taking a joke too far.
My reasoning supporting the specific increase is as follows:-
- Govt is looking for ways to stimulate the economy post lockdowns, post COVID-19 pandemic. To put it simply, businesses can only survive if there is spending in the economy. The consumer plays just as important a role in the economy as the supplier. Min wage workers constitutes a small part of consumers. In a sense govt is trying to increase their participation in the economy by increasing their ability to spend.
- Inflation raises OTHER COSTS of doing business, wages can be lumped into those costs. It is a cyclic effect. Businesses usually respond to inflation by raising their prices, labour responds by requesting wage increases to deal with increased prices, wages subsequently increase. For most economies once wage rates closely matches inflation rates there is no adverse effect to the economy or to individual businesses as profit margins are maintained. Only those businesses that have employees working below 8.50/hr would be directly affected in the short term. The private sector is giving the perception that it would be a large shock to the “cost of doing business”. The point here is that we are dealing with NARROW BAND of the minimum wage and not all wages. The 8.50\ hr rate is below the inflation adjusted amount, it still suits businesses more than the worker, but is probably considered due to the economic effects of COVID-19.
- The 75% ($1.50) increase in bus fare in 2019 was REASON ENOUGH to raise the minimum wage. It is a cost that those earning minimum wage mostly pays and CANNOT reasonably avoid paying with a cheaper alternative. Pre 2019, bus fare for the purpose of GETTING TO & FROM WORK ONLY was $2 x 2 x 5 = $20 (2 bus daily for 5 days work week) or $40 (4 buses daily). Post 2019 it is 3.5 x 2 x 5 = $35 (2 buses) or $70 (4 buses). That is a max $30 increase in bus fare out of a min wage of $6.50 x 40 hrs = $260 that hasn’t changed since 2012. The point here is that the increase in min. wage is 2 years OVERDUE.
- It has been 9 years since the last increase in minimum wage. The party in power addressed the minimum wage as a “manifesto promise” in 2018. This govt announced as recently as Dec 2020 that the minimum wage would be “addressed” by April 1, 2021. The point here is that this should constitute reasonable notice and reasonable expectation that a min wage raise was coming in the near term. The private sector probably dismissed it as “politicking”.
- Businesses would have benefited from the reduction in corporate tax rates in 2019/2020. This would have given them more “financial space” to handle increased costs and “erosion” in profits. The point here is that this financial space wasn’t even needed if the normal inflation- price- profit relationship was maintained.