Google+ Followers

Friday, March 7, 2014

Raising minimum wage will save Michigan some $200 million a year

The Center for American Progress found that if the federal minimum wage were increased to $10.10 it would reduce government spending in Michigan on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by $205.4 million, according to a 37-page report released (Friday).

The report also showed at least 110,000 Michiganders would no long need to rely on the program with a $10.10 per hour minimum wage. The state’s current minimum wage is $7.40 an hour or

 “When we look at the impact that raising the minimum wage would have here, we know that there's nearly one million, if not more, people that will be directly impacted or indirectly impacted,”  said Frank Houston, a member of the Raise Michigan Coalition which seeks to raise Michigan’s minimum wage through a ballot initiative.

 "About 640,000 of those are minimum wage workers, but it’s also the people who are being supported by those workers who are heads of households,” he said. “We have over 341,000 children that are being supported by minimum wage workers.”

A higher minimum wage would have a significant impact on reducing poverty and give people a fighting chance to make ends meet, Houston said.

Nationally, and based on 2012 data, the report says an increase in the minimum wage would save taxpayers nearly $4.6 billion per year, equivalent to 6.1 percent of SNAP expenditures in 2012, the last year for which data are available. During a 10-year period, the estimated savings amount to nearly $46 billion.

"Right now, our economy isn't working for everyone," said Ben Olinsky, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ideas and action.

“Michigan's economy is stacked in favor of those at the top at the expense of everyone else. Raising the minimum wage will help provide Michiganders an economy that works for everyone and not just the wealthy few. Our report shows that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 means that between 110,000 to upwards of 129,000 Michigan residents will no longer need SNAP benefits, saving $205.4 million annually."

Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence and advocate-at-large for the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586-263-8950.