Atlanta is joining the movement to make minimum wage more hospitable for its workers. Many cities across the nation have been undertaking measures to turn their minimum wages more equal to the cost of living, which has been a problem for many places in states like California and New York.
It was in this last election period that many cities added minimum wage increases to exceed $12 an hour over the next few years including in Atlanta where public workers will see their paychecks bring home a little higher compensation starting July 1. That same date other cities like Los Angeles and Washington D.C. will also be starting their minimum wage hikes.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Atlanta budget surplus bumps minimum Wage to 13 an hour as its new numbers include $648 million in fiscal operations for 2018. In fact all city workers salaries will be increasing with the exception of individuals making over $150,000 in yearly salaries. Most notably the city’s fire department will be compensating their workers quite handsomely with $40,000 a year for newer firefighters and those under 10 years in the department, while those who have been with the department longer will be seeing salaries around $43,000 and even some near $47,000 a year.
City leaders have weighed in on this new increase saying it won’t be the end but rather the beginning to a $15 minimum wage by 2020. Most officials including the mayor have said the reason for these increases is to reward workers for their jobs, but what could the side effects be? The state of Georgia has not changed their minimum wage mandate in many years and it remains at $5.15 an hour, though this is certainly below the federal level of $7.25 an hour. What have other cities who have raised the minimum wage seen as a result?
Seattle was the first known city to bring in a yearly increase to the minimum wage until it reaches $15 an hour. But a study was conducted according to the Washington Post that may raise some concerns about whether enforcing this increase could help or hinder more workers in affording housing costs. While the study may have left out some data or worker demographic information, it was noted that some businesses operating solely in the Seattle area had begun cutting back on workers and scaling back operations, and the data suggested that the minimum wage increase actually had a 3 to 1 cost-to-benefit ratio for workers.
Some may argue that the effects of a minimum wage hike may be affected by company size, the city’s base industry or employers changing their hiring philosophies. It’s been long believed that increasing minimum wages doesn’t hurt the economy because back in the early 1990s when the minimum wage started increasing in New Jersey, a study group had found that many jobs had been added during that time. But the hike at that time was certainly not in the $15 an hour range and worked with much more data limitations. Whether Atlanta will see the economic effects turn out for the better or the worse with their new measure remains to be seen.
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