Low-Income Michiganders Rejoice

Minimum wage increased to $8.15

By Joe Zylka
Staff Writer

On Sept. 1, Michigan raised its minimum wage from $7.40 per hour to $8.15 per hour, which is an important step in improving the lives of minimum wage workers. For tipped workers, like restaurant employees, the minimum wage rose from $2.65 per hour to $3.10 per hour.

The political and legal fight in Lansing lasted several months as interest groups like Raise Michigan, who started the ballot drive to raise the minimum wage, fought against interest groups like People Protecting Michigan Jobs (PPMJ), who did not favor a raise in the minimum wage.

Raise Michigan wanted to follow President Obama’s newly signed $10.10 per hour legislation and make that wage effective for all workers in Michigan immediately. However, PPMJ and Republican lawmakers pointed out that an immediate increase to $10.10 per hour would cost Michiganders jobs and hurt local businesses.

As the dust settles, many people are satisfied with the outcome of the minimum wage battle, including Waltonwood of Carriage Park, a senior living center in Canton, Executive Director Teresa Hamos.

“I think raising the minimum wage in incremental ways is very fair for the people working minimum wage jobs,” Hamos said. “Although it will slightly affect profit margins, the overall quality of work should go up.” She added that while she is for the minimum wage increase, people should not rely on it to raise a family.

However, not everyone is happy about the increase in Michigan’s minimum wage.

“I think the minimum wage increase is pointless,” said Schoolcraft freshman Jake Gage. “It screws over small business owners and increases prices for everything else.”

Although Gage is currently employed at minimum wage, he had a different opinion on the motivation factor at work than Hamos did.

“If anything, I’m less motivated to work harder. If I quit or get fired, I can still make good money at the next minimum wage job I get,” said Gage.

Workers who are currently employed at the minimum wage are at $8.15 per hour from now until Jan. 1, 2016, when it will go up to $8.50 per hour. On Jan. 1, 2017 it will be $8.90 per hour, and the increases will stop on Jan. 1, 2018 where minimum wage will top out at $9.25 per hour. Although $9.25 per hour is not exactly what groups like Raise Michigan were looking for, it is still a fair compromise and will help lower-wage Michigan families make ends meet.