This November, Ohio voters will confront an economic conundrum that will impact nearly everyone in the state. The Ohio Fair Minimum Wage Amendment would raise the state minimum wage to $6.85 an hour and thereafter annually increase the minimum wage based on the rate of inflation. Should it pass, the amendment would take effect Jan. 1, 2007. While we recognize there are some downfalls in addition to positive aspects of raising the minimum wage, The Miami Student supports this initiative for several reasons.
The first is blatant – should the amendment pass, student employees for Miami University will see an almost immediate wage increase, an excellent bonus for those who work on campus for the current minimum wage, which is $5.15 an hour. Miami has also said that the pay scale will be reevaluated, meaning those higher up on the pay scale would also receive an increased wage.
Off-campus employment, however, may tell a different story. Because a large number of Oxford commerce is small business, adjusting to a higher minimum wage when finances are already stretched thin may lead to shorter business hours or the elimination of some staff members. On the other hand, an upsurge in disposable income among the student population may lead to more sales for these same Oxford businesses. The money used for an increased minimum wage doesn’t disappear into a black hole; rather, it is funneled back into the local economy.
Additionally, the cost of living in the United States has shot up since the last minimum wage increase a decade ago. The facts are clear – minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation and is barely enough, if that, to keep even the single person afloat of rent and gas prices. The current $5.15 an hour has 14 percent less purchasing power than in any time in the past 50 years. There is no excuse for the minimum wage to fall behind the rate of inflation. Therefore, this editorial board agrees with the initial wage increase and subsequent increases due to inflation that would be instated by the amendment.
In conclusion, the Ohio Fair Minimum Wage Amendment would jolt the paychecks of Miami students and Oxford residents alike, stimulate more flow of money in our local and state economies, and improve the gap between the cost of living and wages.