S hould minimum wage workers get a raise?
I t's a question that is being debated all around the country and here in northern Michigan.
A grass roots group has been vocal about submitting a ballot initiative in that would ask voters to boost the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour in Michigan. This pay raise would mean a lot for many families, but could create headaches for local business owners.
M arjorie Mehney prides herself on offering competitive wages for her employees here at Pretty Woman Boutique in downtown Petoskey.
"I f they know that they're going to continually get paid respectfully they will stay with you longer ," Mehney said.
M any businesses owners in Petoskey are following this trend and are offering wages higher than the state minimum of $7.40.
However, if the minimum wage were to go up , businesses may have to make sacrifices to stay competitive.
W hich could mean less workers getting hired , bigger cuts to budgets and prices going up for consumers.
"I t's complicated , there's a lot of layers and a lot of ripple effects that happen to businesses as well as the whole economy," Carlin Smith, Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce Director said. "So it has to be something that is thought about very carefully."
U nder the proposal there would be incremental increases with the goal of getting minimum wage in Michigan to $9.50 an hour in 2016.
"Cost of living goes up and it's probably an adjustment that needs to happen time-to-time, but it shouldn't be done in a big radical jump, it should be done in small increments and be looked at on a more regular basis," Smith said.
M any business owners would be ok with a small gradual change , but they say two dollars an hour in that short of a time span is too much to handle.
"I 'd rather see smaller changes first as you get into it, that plus the healthcare we are presented with are big numbers for store owners to absorb and I don't think in anyway shape or form that we are out of the recession enough to be able to afford this," Mehney said.
I f enough signatures are collected , the proposal could be on the state's November ballot.