HARRISBURG, PA – In his 2017-18 budget, Governor Tom Wolf calls for a mandated increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $12 per hour effective on July 1 of this year, with no phase in period. SMC Business Councils, along with 10 affiliate organizations, conducted a minimum wage survey among 450 Western Pennsylvania small businesses, finding 85 percent of respondents disagreed with the governor’s proposal, while only 11 percent agreed.
More than 30 members of SMC Business Councils will converge on Harrisburg on Monday, May 8, 2017 to present members of the Governor’s staff with results from the minimum wage survey as well as to meet with and educate lawmakers about the top concerns of small business.
“A proposal that doesn’t allow for a phase-in of a new minimum wage could have an unintended consequence such as putting money into the pockets of fewer workers with less hours and benefits,” said Eileen Anderson, director, Government Relations, SMC Business Councils. “It should also be noted that 90 percent of the respondents to the survey already pay an entry wage higher than the current minimum wage.”
According the survey, a three-year phase-in to increase the minimum wage by 50 cents per hour, reaching $8.75 per hour in 2019 was viewed more favorably with 48 percent agreeing.
There were a variety of answers to actions that employers would take if there were a mandated increase in the minimum wage. For example, 17 percent of respondents said they will reduce the hiring of unskilled, entry level workers, 17 percent also said they would reduce hours for employees, 16 percent said they would be forced to decrease benefits offered to employees, 16 percent said they would need to eliminate jobs and 12 percent said they will have to find ways to increase efficiency and productivity by outsourcing or automation.
“Employers should be allowed to set their own packages of wages and benefits to attract employees,” added Anderson. “We believe a
wage increase will impact the smaller business and manufacturers’ community more than any other segment of the economy since they offer more entry-level positions.”
Fifty percent of survey respondents also support a training wage for those 18 years and under, while 28 percent disagreed with that premise.
“Our members are committing a full day – and most of an evening – to this effort because it is urgent that small business owners have their voices heard in Harrisburg,” said David Fair, CEO of SMC Business Councils. “Small business is the backbone of the Pennsylvania economy and lawmakers must continually be reminded that there are more than 220,000 small businesses in the state, with 87 percent of those employing fewer than 20 employees. Fully 98 percent of all employers in Pennsylvania are small businesses.
Representatives from the SMC will also meet with lawmakers to discuss issues such as reform of the state pension systems, taxation, labor costs and regulation and overall perception of the state of doing business in Pennsylvania. Teams of members will conduct individual meetings with state legislators and then come together to debrief.
In addition to the meetings throughout the day, Western Pennsylvania members will join their counterparts from SMC Central for lunch at the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association (PMA) and guest speakers, including Commonwealth Foundation, Nathan A. Benefield, vice president of policy from the Commonwealth Foundation and Carl A. Marrara, the PMA’s vice president of government affairs. The group will also have dinner in the State Capitol with guest speaker John Nikoloff, partner, ERG Partners.
About SMC Business Councils
For more than 70 years, SMC Business Councils has served as the voice of small business and manufacturing in Western Pennsylvania. The SMC membership is made up of manufacturing companies, industrial supply organizations and professional services firms. SMC offers a full range of HR Professional Services, including an in-house insurance agency that currently serves hundreds of companies
*Ellwood City Area Chamber of Commerce is one of the audiences surveyed*