Lansing residents rally pushing for increase in minimum wage
In Lansing, around 12 local residents met in front of the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., in an attempt to convince him to sign the discharge petition to bring H.R. 1010 to a vote.
H.R. 1010 is a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
“Anybody that works full time deserves to live,” Holt resident Robin Blackman said.
Blackman said increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would improve low-income workers’ lives.
U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., first introduced the bill in 2013 proposing an increase in the minimum wage to $8.20 three months after approval. Two years after bill approval, the minimum wage would jump to $10.10.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama will visit University of Michigan to deliver remarks about the issue.
In a statement on Tuesday, Rogers said even though he has always supported raising the minimum wage, it’s not a viable action for the American economy.
“One of the tenants of the American labor system is that employees are provided with a living wage and a key component of that framework are minimum wage laws,” Rogers said in the statement. “I also believe it is imperative that the minimum wage accurately reflects the economic conditions so that business owners are not burdened.”
MSU economics professor Charles Ballard said the increase in the minimum wage has both positive and negative impacts.
“If you raised it to $10.10 that is still not affluent but ... $5,400 per year can make a difference for a lot of folks,” Ballard said.
But raising the minimum wage could lead to a loss of jobs, he said.
“The biggest effect will be on the low wage jobs or the jobs at the bottom,” Ballard said.
Even though economists have different opinions about what the minimum wage should be, Ballard thinks that increasing the wage to $10.10 will not affect the economy.
“Based on my personal (preference), I think the economy could easily withstand with an increase of (the minimum wage),” Ballard said.
Bob Alexander , the organizer of the Lansing rally, said Obama’s visit is in response to the petition many Michiganders signed advocating for the wage increase.
“(Obama) is coming here mainly because of our state petition ... to raise the minimum wage ... to say ‘I want to be identified and I want to help you and we need to do this,’” Alexander said.
The debate on the increase of the minimum wage has been partisan from the beginning.
196 members of the Democratic delegation have co-sponsored the bill. No Republican member has signed it.
For Sen. Debbie Stabenow , increasing the minimum wage will justify the work that minimum wage employees do.
“A single mom with two kids who earns the minimum wage by scrubbing floors or standing on her feet all day only makes about $15,000 a year — $4,000 below the poverty line,” Stabenow said in a statement. “Meanwhile, the average CEO makes the same amount of money as 933 minimum wage workers’ salaries combined.”