As the minimum wage debate resonates throughout Nevada, businesses are bracing for, what could be, a substantial increase in minimum wage. This year the state House and Senate separately passed two hastily drawn up laws to increase the minimum wage in Nevada, both of which were ultimately vetoed by the Governor. What they did end up passing was resolution SJR6. The resolution would amend the Nevada Constitution to increase the minimum wage. If the resolution manages to gain passage in 2019, it will go on the general ballot for a vote. However, there’s a good chance a ballot initiative will be introduced well before SJR6 finds its way on the ballot. This could put the issue of minimum wage on the ballot next year.
There’s a number of reasons I oppose increasing the minimum wage. First of all, I believe in free markets without a lot of government interference. It never sits well to have the government add additional burdens to businesses. And, with our state’s extremely low unemployment rate, we’re already competing to hire people. It’s common sense; if you want to be competitive in hiring talent, you’ll need to pay competitive wages and benefits.
Secondly, substantially raising minimum wage kills ambition. I would hope we can keep entry level jobs available so that they are used as temporary positions and stepping stones, not a way of life. How many people do you know that aspire to make a career flipping burgers? Yet, if the money provides a decent living, fewer people will be incentivized to make a better life for themselves.
The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce recently released the results of a survey which indicated that nearly 70 percent of members polled expressed concern that a minimum wage increase would affect their business. Of those, 41 percent said they anticipated having to lay off employees and 52 percent said they would likely reduce hours as a result of a minimum wage increase.
Three years ago, City of Seattle officials voted to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour through incremental increases. It’s my hope, that by the time the ballot initiative is distributed in Nevada, we will have definitive results of how Seattle’s minimum wage increase worked out for that community. Early results show that increasing wages resulted in payroll cuts, hiring delays, shorter hours and lay offs for low wage-earners. A recent study, conducted by the University of Washington and commissioned by the city of Seattle, estimated, on average, low wage workers lost about $125 monthly. In essence, the increase in wages had the opposite effect of its intentions. And, that’s not even taking into consideration the increase in products and services as a result of businesses paying more for workers. Hopefully, we can learn from Seattle’s mistake.
CALL TO ACTION: The minimum wage initiative continues to gain momentum. Employers need to be prepared for the eventuality of the issue appearing on a ballot initiative. We must come together and educate our workers as well as the community at large. I’m hopeful that business organizations throughout the state will have the courage to take a strong position opposing the initiative. We all need to be prepared to contribute to the cause by donating our resources to defeat the minimum wage increase.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”