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Push for Higher Minimum Wage Continues

Michigan's $.35-per-hour minimum-wage increase adds $14 per week before taxes to the paychecks of those working full-time. (markgraf/morguefile)
Michigan's $.35-per-hour minimum-wage increase adds $14 per week before taxes to the paychecks of those working full-time. (markgraf/morguefile)
January 5, 2018

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan rang in 2018 with a 35-cent hike to the minimum wage, but some say that doesn't go far enough and want voters to have the final word. This week marked the last of three scheduled increases under a law passed in 2014, taking the state's minimum wage to $9.25 an hour.

The group Michigan One Fair Wage is circulating petitions to put a measure on the November ballot to raise it to $12 an hour by 2022.

Alicia Renee Farris chairs the campaign and says the state's current wage still puts the basics of the American dream out of reach.

"Safe and affordable housing, childcare, food prices are escalating; gasoline prices fluctuate," she says. "People should have enough money to purchase a home, to purchase a car."

Critics of a higher minimum wage say it would hurt small businesses, driving up prices and cutting employment. But supporters say it would help lift people out of poverty and reduce the need for state subsidies. The group has until May to obtain enough valid signatures to put the measure on the November ballot.

Farris says her group believes phasing in a higher wage over the course of four years would give employers a chance to adapt their business models - which she says is necessary, given the increasing role of technology.

"Do you want to continue to balance your books on the backs of vulnerable populations, or do you want to help to increase the tax base throughout Michigan?" she asks? "Typically, when people have more spendable income, they spend - and so, that's better for businesses all around."

Michigan is one of 18 states to raise its minimum wage this year. The federal minimum wage of $7.25 hasn't changed since 2009.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI