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Ohio group pushes for ballot issue to raise the minimum wage

At the beginning of this year, Ohio’s minimum wage was raised to $8.70, but a proposed ballot issue may raise it to $13 an hour by 2024.

The annual income for someone working full-time in Ohio with the $8.70 minimum wage would be $18,096, according to Ohioans for Raising the Wage. That would come out to be about $348 per week, which would not be enough to cover the costs of groceries, rent and other essentials, according to a press release from Ohioans for Raising the Wage.

Councilwoman Chris Knisely said there would be many positive effects to raising the minimum wage.

“People would have more potential for financial independence, especially people who are single, a single person in a household and trying to make ends meet. It would make it easier for students, make it more stable for them,” Knisely said. “The majority who would be affected by this … are women and disproportionately people of color. Those are the majority of people working at minimum wage.”

Councilman Peter Kotses, D-At Large, owns a local bike shop and pays his workers above the minimum wage. 

The largest product that humans can offer is service, Kotses said. Minimum wage needs to come up so that people are paid for the work and time that they’ve put in.

“The greatest challenge (is) in that all of our systems are built on minimum wage,” Kotses said. 

Knisely said the Athens’ City Auditor’s Office thinks that implementing pay increases for city’s employees who work for under $13 an hour would result in $158,978 additional payroll expenses for the city. That number would be if the $13 an hour minimum wage was implemented in one year as opposed to the ballot issue that is to increase it in increments until 2024.

There is a state legislature that is proposing to raise the wage to $15 an hour by 2025, Kotses said. He also said the reason that they are starting with $13 an hour minimum wage is because it is a good compromise. 

Raising the minimum wage from $8.70 to $13 an hour, however, would have an effect on small businesses. 

Knisely said the Athens’ City Tax Administrators indicated that small businesses might need to lower expenses to offset the increased labor wage. That might result in the employer reducing costs by cutting the number of hours for employees or the employer reducing costs by outsourcing.

There are also large online competitors, like Amazon, that small businesses have to compete against, Kotses said. Kotses wonders if there would ever be a way to bring the wage up, when there are businesses so large, to be able to compete in a different way. For small businesses, it would depend on their service.


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