Legislators in Glynn and Camden counties say they are opposed to raising the minimum wage in Georgia.
State Reps. Alex Atwood, Jeff Jones and Jason Spencer and Sen. William Ligon feel what employers pay their employees should be determined by the market, not elected officials.
None favors increasing the minimum wage at this time.
“Wages are better determined by the market,” said Ligon, R-St. Simons Island. “Practical experience proves that as employees gain more skills, employers are both able and willing to pay increased wages in order to retain their employment.”
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, the least amount most employers in Georgia can pay. It is more than the state minimum wage of $5.15.
“Also, experience shows us that when government increases the minimum wage, many jobs are lost and prices increase for the consumer,” Ligon said. “This unfortunate occurrence closes the door for many entry level jobs which allow our young people to gain valuable experience and on-the-job training. Furthermore, opportunities for social mobility and job advancement become more difficult to find for low skilled and less educated workers.”
The last time the federal minimum wage was raised was in 2009.
Rep. Jones, R-St. Simons Island, agrees with Ligon. As the owner of Express Lube & Car Wash on Community Road, he knows what increasing the minimum would mean to employees, the business and the consumers.
“Using our car wash business as an example, if we are forced to pay an artificially higher wage, meaning neither the labor market nor consumer demand support such an increase, Express Lube & Car Wash will be forced to raise retail prices to cover those added costs,” Jones said. “Artificially raising our car wash prices will mean that fewer customers can afford to buy the services we offer. If we have fewer customers, we will not need as many employees.
“It’s a very simple equation: higher minimum wage equals fewer jobs.”
State Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta, would like to raise the state minimum to $10.10 an hour. The last time Georgia legislators raised the state minimum wage was in 2002, when it went to $5.15 from $3.25 per hour.
Rep. Spencer, R-Woodbine, feels the same as Jones: higher wages tend to kill jobs.
“Minimum wage laws always decrease employment opportunities and always interfere with free choice and the freedom of contract,” Spencer said. “They are supported by politicians seeking votes and by labor unions anxious to cripple non-union, low cost competitors. They are also inherently discriminatory since they hurt only workers on the lowest rung of the employment ladder. And increasing the minimum wage provides no boost to overall consumption, as advocates maintain, since the workers displaced easily negate any slight income change for the workers retained.”
Spencer also disagrees with those who claim raising the minimum is a “moral imperative.”
“Everyone at some point needs an entry-level job and a chance to climb an employment ladder to higher pay,” Spencer said. “There is no moral or economic reason why government should discriminate against such jobs or eliminate the first few steps of that ladder.”