He’s not ready for a wage hike

Published 11:51 am Wednesday, February 8, 2017

State legislators are working on a bill that could change the lives of many people in Virginia, especially in our area.

If House Bill 1444 passes, the minimum wage in the state will soar from $7.25 to $10 per hour effective July 1, to $12.50 per hour effective July 1, 2019, and to $15 per hour effective July 1, 2021.

Similar bills across the country have been met both with cries of joy and groans of agony. Unfortunately, those with hard-set opinions on either side of the argument refuse to step down or truly listen to the other side.

I find myself on a precarious ledge between supporting and opposing the minimum wage increase.

Spend any time on liberal or conservative social media websites and you’ll likely see something about minimum wage. With both sides being biased, there is no easy way of telling what is true and what is false about the minimum wage increase and its consequences, positive or negative. The truth behind it all is it is truly difficult to determine the long-term, large-scale consequences of increasing the minimum wage by an amount as substantial as is being proposed.

With each article I read on minimum wage, I get a little more flustered and a little more confused. Even “non-biased” sources seem to disagree on the potential outcome of such a sudden increase. Some sources say it will put more money back into the economy. Great! Others say it will lead to a decline in the number of jobs at affected businesses such as restaurants and retail stores. Not so great. But, what is the truth?

The issue is that never in history has the United States experienced such a drastic increase in minimum wage as is being proposed. Because of this, all we can truly go on to research the possible outcomes is speculation and anecdotal evidence, neither of which should be accepted as an ultimate truth.

I am lucky in that I have family that can and will help support me until I am able to truly stand on my own two feet, but I do understand what it is like to be tight on money. In a perfect world, if we could increase the minimum wage in the state with no other factors being involved (businesses won’t decrease their employment or hours, employers didn’t increase prices to make up for higher wages, etc.)

Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world, and nobody has any idea what will truly happen long-term if we increase the minimum wage by almost $3. The state, then, should wait to raise the minimum wage until economists have found a way to accurately predict the possible outcomes of such an action.

Brian Klingenfus is a staff writer for The Kenbridge Victoria Dispatch. His email address is Brian.Klingenfus@KVDispatch.com.