Recent LSA graduate Polina Arsentyeva will see an extra $10 in her usual paycheck from Stucchi’s after a state-wide minimum wage hike takes effect tomorrow, but Arsentyeva said the few additional dollars won’t matter much to her.
“I don’t think it’s going to make that much of a difference, but maybe I just don’t know because I’m not in a situation where I need the money to survive,” said Arsentyeva, who has plans to keep scooping ice cream until she starts law school at Loyola University in the fall.
“It’s basically just so I don’t mooch off of my parents while I’m in Ann Arbor,” she said.
Starting Tuesday, employees working for minimum wage throughout the state will make $7.40 an hour – a 25-cent increase over the state’s current $7.15 minimum hourly rate.
Though the increase is a welcome addition for some of Michigan’s lowest wage earners, the majority of workers probably won’t feel the direct impact of this state-mandated increase.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, just 2.2 percent of Michigan’s approximately 3 million hourly wageworkers were paid minimum wage in 2007.
For those 58,000 workers, the latest wage hike represents the last of three annual increases to the state’s minimum wage rate. The three-part boost was passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jennifer Granholm in March 2006.
The first segment increased minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.95 in October 2006. The second increase brought the state up to its current $7.15 minimum in July 2007.
Though Mayor John Hieftje said he welcomed the recent wage hike, he said its effect on Ann Arbor would likely be minimal.
“I doubt if it will have much of an impact at all,” Hieftje said. “This is not a significant increase, but people working at the minimum wage need all the help they can get.”
Although Michigan will rank seventh compared to other states’ hourly minimum wage on Tuesday, Hieftje said Ann Arbor’s own living wage was put in place in 2000 to help people earn enough money to live in the community.
The current minimum living wage for an employee in Ann Arbor with health care benefits is $10.33 per hour. For an employee who does not receive health benefits, the city requires a living wage of $11.96 per hour.
The living wage doesn’t apply to University jobs. Dave Reid, spokesman for the University’s Human Resources Department, said the effect of a minimum wage change on campus employment is also likely to be insignificant.
“I don’t know that we know the dollar-for-dollar impact, but it’s been expected and known and we’ve planned for this change,” Reid said.
Though less opportunity for new employment after a wage increase was a concern for some Michigan lawmakers, Jack Finn, director of the Wage & Hour division for the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth, said a change in the minimum wage won’t decrease the number of available jobs.
“It’s almost like an urban legend that a minimum-wage increase leads to a loss of jobs,” Finn said. “It’s just not factual.”
Although some employers will have to pay their workers more, Finn said employees will generally spend the extra money in the community, which will increase profits for most local businesses. He said employers, particularly single-business owners, could potentially pass their extra labor costs on to consumers by raising their prices.