In the past few months there has been much heated debate over whether state governments should raise their minimum wages. While there’s an argument that paying employees more would raise costs for employers, and might lead to layoffs, an increased minimum wage is necessary to allow workers to live.
South Carolina does not have a state minimum wage, which means our state follows the national standard of $7.25 an hour. The Palmetto State is one of only five with no minimum wage law.
The yearly income earned by a minimum wage worker is below the national poverty line for families of two or more. This has been the case since the 1990s. At its high point in 1968, the minimum wage was enough for a family of three, but it still fell short for a family of four.
Corporations claim to maintain profits an increase in the minimum wage would result in massive layoffs, but studies have shown that this would not be the case. Specifically, if McDonald’s increased wages from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour, it could increase the price of a Big Mac by 68 cents and make up the costs.
According to a report published last year, more than $6.2 billion was spent in public assistance just for Walmart employees in 2014, who are paid the minimum wage and unable to live on it. Just this month Walmart announced it will give a third of its workforce – 500,000 full-time and part-time associates – a $1.75 raise to at least $9 an hour.
It wasn’t that long ago that we said, “Thank goodness for Mississippi,” when South Carolina was ranked just ahead of The Magnolia State as the worst state for education. While we’ve improved over the years (a new study suggest we’re now No. 42), is it all that surprising that three of the five states with no minimum wage – Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi – are ranked No. 48, 49 and 50, respectively? Only Tennessee (No. 28) separates itself.
Government and economic development officials in our state have said “cheap land and labor” is a thing of the past. It’s time they put their money where their mouths’ are. Higher wages aren’t the deterrent. It’s a combination of economic incentives, education and training, and technology adoption. How can we expect to excel in these areas if our people are not given a fair wage?
Who We Represent
The Law Office of W. Andrew Arnold advises and represents employees – executives, small business owners and other individuals with workplace-related legal issues. If you need assistance with a work-related matter and would like to schedule a consultation, contact us today, 864-242-4800.