2021 Michigan Wage Increase Delay Turns 2022 Increase Redundant

Illustration credits to Canva.com

Illustration credits to Canva.com

The current plan of the Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act of 2018 made by the Michigan Legislature to raise Michigan’s minimum wage provides minimal support and reliability for workers making the minimum wage. Roughly $0.20 increments will be added to the current minimum yearly until it reaches $12.05 in 2031. Workers between ages 16 and 17 will continue to make 85% of the minimum hourly rate. Currently, the minimum wage is $9.87.

Due to the ongoing program, Michigan workers now have to wait nine years for a new wage, a wage in which someone who works 40 hours a week with no days off wouldn’t even reach the living wage. The salary needed for a decent standard of living. In Michigan, this is $28,354. Bad enough as the program is, the $0.22 raise that was scheduled for January 2021 was delayed an entire year and went into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. Due to the number of unemployed workers exceeding the %8.5 threshold within the last three weeks of the year, a requirement set by the Michigan Legislature. The delay was given without reimbursement for the roughly 70,000 workers being paid minimum wage which I’m sure caused a lot of distress. While $0.22 cents might not seem like a lot, and it isn’t, it does provide at least some support for underpaid workers. But even that was taken away from Michigan workers.

While 70,000 workers might not sound like a large amount, there are still thousands who are paid over the wage but still nowhere near enough to maintain a steady life. Research conducted by people at the White House Council of Economic Advisors shows that raising the wage could affect people who make up to 150% of the minimum wage as well.

Young adults make up a disproportionate amount of minimum wage workers. A staggering 50.4% are 16-24 year-olds and 24% are teenagers ages 16-19. Nearly 50% of DHS students currently have a job and roughly 50% are being paid the current minimum minor wage. Working minors will see a mere $0.19 minimum wage increase as of Jan. 1, 2022, something we should have seen a year ago. Although raising the wage might help teens on the surface, it could potentially shut teens out of the workforce. This is because employers may not want to pay someone with little work experience a higher wage when they could pay someone wiser and with more experience the same salary.  Casey B. Mulligan, Ph.D., an economics professor at the University of Chicago, stated that the teenage employment index stooped 8% down throughout the next three months following the U.S minimum wage increase of July 2009.

Things like this are pushing more and more people away from minimum wage jobs. Allowing for a higher increase this year to compensate for the delay would help pull more people back into those positions. A 2021 study by the Pew Research Center even showed that 62% of Americans support a $15 minimum wage, despite the risk of shutting more teens out from the workforce. You can join the worldwide fight for a better wage here.

The new variant could bring up similar challenges low-income workers had to face at the start of the pandemic.  A study done by Kim Parker, a director for Social Trends Research, shows that during the 2020 outbreak, 21% of Americans reportedly experienced reduced hours and pay and low-income workers are definitely not prepared enough for more work obstacles. The possibility of another recession comes with the possibility of another increase delay. The program in place is unfair and provides little support. Job loss is not an excuse to stop supporting the people hard at work being paid a modicum amount of money trying to make ends meet. We need to take action now before the damage is irreversible.