LIMA — For about 277,000 Ohioans, the new year will bring about $1.20 more a day.
That $1.20 a day is due to the 15 cent increase to minimum wage, raising it to $8.10 an hour, a change Ohio Northern University Economics Associate Professor David McClough calls “minimal.”
“So few people are actually affected by minimum wage,” he said.
Beginning Thursday, employers will have to pay the $1.20 more a day, plus taxes, per minimum wage employee, but McClough says the change shouldn’t adversely affect employers or the economy, as it’s more of a political issue.
The Meeting Place on Market has a few employees who earn minimum wage and owner Jennifer Brogee said she’s happy about the increase.
“I think our economy doesn’t pay retail and restaurant workers enough overall,” she said. “Honestly we’d rather pay more than minimum wage.”
Brogee said the café starts employees out at minimum wage and adjusts pay based on experience. Of its 14 workers, she said only a few are paid minimum wage.
The 277,000 workers affected includes tipped workers, who get a raise of 7 cents, to $4.05 an hour, according to a release from Policy Matters Ohio, a nonpartisan organization that studies Ohio’s economy.
Policy Matters has released a statement congratulating Ohio voters on a good decision, made in 2006, when the state approved an Ohio constitutional amendment allowing for annual rate adjustments, according to the organization.
Robert Nelson with The Met, a restaurant and wine bar in downtown Lima, said the increase won’t affect his bottom line.
The restaurant employs about six tipped minimum wage workers and nine employees overall who will be impacted by the change.
Though some say raising the minimum wage means less hiring and fewer jobs overall, Nelson said that isn’t the case with The Met.
“We are growing, we will be hiring,” he said.
Nelson said raising the minimum wage is important — as long as the economy calls for it.
“If the economy deems the minimum wage should go up due to a myriad of factors … then I believe the minimum wage should go up,” he said. “Should it be year in, year out as a given … I don’t believe so.”
Policy Matters and labor organization Ohio AFL-CIO seem to believe the increase was not enough and are calling for more.
“As cities and states around the country raise their wages above both the national and the Ohio level, it’s time for Ohio to boost its wage above the $8.10 level,” said Amy Hanauer, executive director of Policy Matters Ohio, in a statement. “It’s time for Ohio to update our policy to better reflect our economic reality. While $8.10 an hour is better than $7.95, people still can’t live on that wage.”
The increase will help, but it won’t solve the problem, said Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga, in a statement.
“We have put Ohio on the forefront of this economic advance, but there is still a long way to go,” he said.