Biz groups say minimum wage hike would cost thousands of jobs

Business groups today argued increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 would cost Wisconsin 27,000 jobs and said public support for the move drops once that impact is factored in.

Public polling has shown broad support in Wisconsin for increasing the minimum wage to $10.10, a level pushed by President Obama and Dems in Wisconsin and around the country.

The business groups countered with polling that found 53 percent of voters supported increasing the minimum wage when first asked about the issue. But once informed it could lead to 27,000 lost jobs, that support dropped to 39 percent.

The poll of 505 registered likely voters Feb. 24-26 by the Tarrance Group had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Wisconsin Grocers Association and the Wisconsin Restaurant Association cited a study from the Employment Policies Institute, which is affiliated with a public relations firm for the restaurant industry, for the possible jobs lost.

WGA President and CEO Brandon Scholz said if the minimum wage is increased, consumers would end up paying for the increased costs on businesses. He said businesses would not just need to give raises to those making minimum wage, but also give corresponding raises to those making more than $7.25 an hour.

“Think of what that does to your wage expense. It just clobbers it,” Scholz said. “It drives your expenses beyond the point that you can absorb those costs. … Somebody’s going to pay for this, and that is going to go to consumers. … That money just doesn’t magically appear.”

One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross criticized the reliability of the group that conducted the study, saying EPI represents business interests.

Ross dismissed the study’s findings, arguing that since consumer spending makes up most of the economy, giving people more to spend would boost economic growth.

“Raising the minimum wage creates more spending in the economy, which is how you increase jobs, and it’s sort of sad that the titans of corporate Wisconsin are here arguing against putting more money into the economy,” Ross said.

Ross pointed to a January Marquette University Law School Poll that showed 62 percent support raising the minimum wage.

By WisBusiness Staff