by J.D. Davidson
While President Joe Biden’s administration continues a push to increase the national minimum wage and an Ohio proposal does the same, a statewide business group says an increase would mean higher prices, reduced hours and job cuts.
Biden’s plan for a $15 national minimum wage continues to be one of the sticking points in negotiations over another COVID-19 relief package. In Ohio, House Bill 69 would increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2027.
Ohio’s minimum wage stands at $8.80 an hour for nontipped employees and $4.35 an hour for tipped employees.
“We can’t afford to stay stuck in the past with poverty-wage jobs that don’t let Ohioans live up to their full potential,” said Rep. Brigid Kelly, D-Cincinnati. “Ohio’s minimum wage needs an overhaul to meet demands of today’s new economy.”
HB 69 bill, sponsored by Kelly and Sens. Cecil Thomas, D-Cincinnati, and Hearcel Craig, D-Columbus, is similar to a Florida ballot measure that passed in November. The Ohio lawmakers’ proposal moves the state minimum wage to $10 an hour Jan. 1, 2022, then increases by $1 each year until Jan. 1, 2027. After that, it would be tied to inflation.
“Far too many Ohioans work multiple jobs and still can’t afford to pay for food, bills and health care,” Thomas said. “That’s shameful, but it’s also something the General Assembly can fix by passing this legislation. We need to make sure workers in Ohio are adequately paid so they can take care of their families.”
The Ohio Restaurant Association said a recent poll of business operators in the state mirrored a National Restaurant Association survey that showed 82% of restaurant owners believe a minimum wage increase will have a negative effect on their ability to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, 98% nationally said an increase would force a rise in menu prices, and 84% said jobs and hours for employees likely would be cut.
HB 69 is in the House Commerce and Labor Committee. It has not had a hearing.
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. Davidson is a regional editor for The Center Square.
Photo “15 Dollar Minimum Wage Supporter” by The All-Nite Images. CC BY-SA 2.0