Increasing minimum wage brings substantial benefits

I am writing in regard to the Jan. 23 Another Voice, “New research debunks report favoring pay increase.” As the owner of Talking Leaves … Books in Buffalo, I know that we expand and hire when we have customers with money to buy our books. In contrast to what Michael Saltsman says, there is a broad consensus among honest and respected economists that a higher minimum wage, one that more realistically reflects the cost of living, will strengthen the economy, particularly the local economy, by increasing consumer demand.

Contrary to the popular perception that small businesses favor a low minimum wage, many small business owners support raising the minimum wage because we understand that lower employee turnover decreases the costs of constantly training new workers, and fosters increased productivity, improved customer satisfaction and a better company reputation. Treating employees as partners rather than as pawns has always been a wise decision. Paying a decent wage is good for business and good for our community.

Repressed minimum wages typically benefit large corporations more than small local businesses, with the ironic consequence of forcing customers to spend their dollars at national and multinational retailers who maintain artificially low prices on some goods in part by paying low wages and by demanding concessions from their suppliers, who also suppress wages, often by shipping jobs overseas. Not to mention, the bulk of the money spent in those chains leaves our community, flowing into the coffers of the home office, or offshore accounts. The benefits of a higher minimum wage are substantial, and extend far beyond the obvious one of improving the lives of those at the bottom of the economic ladder.

Jonathon Welch