Starting Jan. 1, minimum wage in Ohio is set to raise from $8.10 an hour to $8.15 an hour.
Earlier this week, Gov. John Kasch signed legislation into law, prohibiting local communities from raising their minimum wage above state standards.
In 2006, Ohio voters passed a constitutional amendment that increases minimum wage with the rate of inflation each year.
According to the Ohio Department of Commerce, “the Constitutional Amendment passed by Ohio voters in Nov. 2006, states that Ohio’s minimum wage shall increase on Jan. 1 of each year by the rate of inflation.”
Local officials say having a minimum wage is a good thing for the individual and the community.
Scioto County Commissioner Bryan Davis can view minimum wage from a couple of different perspectives. Having once worked for minimum wage to now being a small business owner and county commissioner.
“I am a supporter of the minimum wage as long as the economy can support it,” Davis said. “If the economy can support higher wages, then by all means, we need to do that. People need a living wage, it’s hard when it takes two parents working full time and I know what that’s like, I’ve lived that.”
State Senator Joe Uecker said he was glad Kasich signed the bill into law, prohibiting local communities from raising their minimum wage.
The Associated Press reported that Cleveland was preparing to have a special election to ask voters if they wanted the minimum wage raised to $15 an hour. Since Kasich signed the bill into law that prohibits such actions, a vote can not take place and Uecker is OK with that.
Uecker said having communities raise minimum wage on their own would be detrimental to all of Ohio.
“One of the first things I would do if I was a business man in Cleveland and Cleveland council decided to pass a minimum wage that almost doubled what it is right now, I would move to the outskirts,” Uecker said. “Some people just do not understand economics and thinking this would be good for a city is beyond me.”
Uecker said there was part of him that wanted to let Cleveland try passing a higher minimum wage.
“They’ve made every other mistake in the book with economics. It’s (Cleveland) not what I would call a thriving community,” Uecker said. “We should let them try it, so they can see how much of a failure it would be. This has not worked other places, why would they think it would be different there.”
Uecker said he’s in favor of keeping the conversation of a higher minimum wage going.
“Maybe raising minimum wage is a feel-good political concept, but it’s not a sound economic concept,” Uecker said.
Jason Kester, executive director of the Southern Ohio Port Authority, said there needs to be a few things considered with minimum wage.
“The utopian best case scenario is that everyone makes a livable wage. Those costs are just passed on, as we pay a higher minimum wage, costs go up and you can’t buy as much with your dollar,” Kester said.
Throughout the year the staff of the Southern Ohio Port Authority will visit with various business owners and operators to talk to them about needs or concerns they could use some help with.
“When we go out and do our business retention interviews, one thing I’ve noticed is positions that pay less than $10 an hour have significant retention issues,” Kester said. “When you get into the $12.50 (an hour) range it’s (retention issues) about 50-50. Jobs paying more than $15 dollars an hour, which takes some skill or vocational training, most of your employee issues fade away.”
He said minimum wage also plays a factor in trying to attract businesses to locate in the community.
“Some companies would use it (minimum wage) and for some companies, it would be a net negative,” Kester said.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101 ext. 1933