During the State of the Union Address in February, President Obama called for the minimum wage to be gradually raised to $10 an hour over the next three years. In Michigan, lawmakers have introduced a bill that plans to do exactly that.
The bill, sponsored by democratic representatives John Switalski and Rishida Tlaib, would raise Michigan’s minimum wage rate for the first time since 2008. The representatives say the bill would give working residents “a chance at a better life” while reducing income inequality.
A recent survey revealed that over 70% of Michigan residents support an increase in the minimum wage. In response to the survey, Oakland (Michigan) County Commissioner David Woodward launched www.raisemichigan.com, an advocacy site aimed at helping the wage legislature pass in Michigan’s state senate.
“Right now, minimum wage workers and middle class families are doing their taxes and they’re finding their taxes going up because of policies by Gov. Snyder and Republicans in Lansing,” Woodward said.
“It’s long overdue that Michigan families get a raise and raising the minimum wage helps do that,” he added.
Progress Michigan’s executive director Zach Pohl said he believes that “every Michigan resident who’s willing to work hard and play by the rules should have an opportunity to enjoy a middle class lifestyle.”
For a Michigan resident working 40 hours per-week, the current minimum wage rate provides $15,392 in income before taxes. Due to increased costs of living, this income rate barely puts Michigan workers above the poverty line.
Republican Governor Rick Snyder and other GOP leaders oppose the bill, claiming it will hurt Michigan employees by making it more difficult for employers to hire more people.
Woodward isn’t buying into this logic.
“Too many Lansing politicians are failing to realize that businesses and families are hurt by Michigan’s increasing poverty and income inequalities,” he said. “Protecting workers and families by increasing the minimum wage is not only a matter of fairness, but it’s the right thing to do for our economy. More money in people’s pockets means more money in the local economy helping small businesses.”
When accounting for inflation and costs of living, the minimum wage rate has dropped 17% since 1974. Michigan lawmakers behind this bill join President Obama, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and others who believe the lack of a proportional wage increase has hurt the living standards of American families while preventing them from contributing to local economies.