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Minimum Wage

Transparent Statement:
Minimum wage must be raised, but I prefer a 3-tier minimum wage.

In the "good old days," minimum wage was paid to entry-level workers who then worked their way up to higher-paying jobs, either through experience or education. It was never intended to be enough to support a family.

The reality today is that minimum wage is no longer paid for just entry-level workers, but for a huge number of workers who do have families to support. While the long-term solution is to help these workers get an education so they can get a higher-paying job, that cannot happen overnight.

I support raising the minimum wage. Today's minimum wage is less than I earned as a college intern more than 20 years ago — and that does not even account for inflation.

As an entrepreneur who has started companies and hired employees, I am very aware of the impact of labor costs to businesses. I am not suggesting minimum wage should be so high that it affords a middle-class lifestyle. Most businesses cannot afford that. But it is also wrong that people can work 40+ hours per week and live in poverty such that they cannot even afford food.

I support a 3-tier minimum wage:

  • Under 18 — Because workers under 18 do not generally pay income taxes anyway, it would be acceptable to reduce their minimum wage and simply not deduct income taxes from their paychecks.

  • Training — For workers new to a job that must be trained, a temporary training wage below the official minimum wage that could last for a maximum of 6 months.

  • Actual Minimum Wage — For workers over 18 and after 6 months of employment.

I believe the training wage provides many benefits and is a reasonable compromise that businesses can afford and are willing to support. It reduces the up-front cost of hiring and trianing new employees. Providing a raise after 6 months can also help reduce employee turnover by providing an incentive for employees to stay, knowing they will be subject to the training wage again if they switch jobs.

Turnover is incredibly expensive for employers and can be more than 100% for minimum wage jobs — meaning almost all employees leave within a year. Reducing turnover saves businesses the time and expense of hiring new employees to replace those who left.

I am not suggesting that a minimum wage will ever provide a path out of poverty. Only education can do that. But it should be enough for a person to survive without public assistance.

I also realize that different metropolitan areas have different costs of living. I support individual cities and counties having the right to set their own minimum wage above the state level.

Steve Rubenstein for Governor | Privacy Policy