Democrats in the Ohio House of Representatives recently introduced legislation to increase the minimum wage of Ohio workers by more than $2 per hour, a change one Ohio State student leader said could decrease student job opportunities.
Ohio House Bill 502, introduced by State Reps. Mike Foley, D-Cleveland, and Robert Hagan, D-Youngstown, would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 from $7.95, a 27 percent increase. The bill would also increase the minimum hourly wage of workers who earn tips to $5.05, up from the current $3.98.
The bill was introduced March 25 and assigned to the Commerce, Labor and Technology Committee where it is currently under review. If signed into law, the legislation would take effect Jan. 1.
Democratic lawmakers said the proposal would benefit all Ohioans. They hope to put more spending power into the hands of minimum wage workers and provide a chance for struggling families to rise above the poverty line.
According to the Ohio House minority caucus’ blog, the proposal would add $2.1 billion to Ohio’s economy and create an estimated 6,000 new jobs.
“This is money that will go directly back into our economy, not in some offshore account or overseas investment,” Hagan said in a statement in the post. “Instead of being pushed into public assistance lines, Ohioans who play by the rules deserve a shot at making it in an economy that rewards hard work.”
Some OSU students, however, said the wage increase could have the opposite effect on job creation.
“That $2.1 billion is coming from the pockets of those who have hiring capability. Unemployment is still incredibly high, and policies that hinder job creation are not a good solution,” Miranda Onnen, communications director for College Republicans and a third-year in economics and political science, said in an email.
Onnen also said she believes current businesses offering minimum wage jobs won’t be able to afford to keep on the same number of workers at the increased cost, or won’t be able to afford new hires.
Representatives from OSU College Democrats did not respond to emails requesting comment.
According to “Forbes,” a 10.6 percent national minimum wage increase passed by Congress in 2009 resulted in a loss of nearly 600,000 jobs for teenagers over the following six months, but the economy also grew by nearly 4 percent.
President Barack Obama urged Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from $7.25 during his State of the Union address Jan. 28.
“This will help families. It will give businesses customers with more money to spend. It doesn’t involve any new bureaucratic program,” Obama said in the address. “Give America a raise.”
Fan Yang, a third year in accounting who makes $8 an hour as an office assistant for the Fisher College of Business — a position he has held since February — said the increased minimum wage in Ohio would be a good thing.
“Who doesn’t want a better rate?” Yang said. He said he works an average of 10.5 hours a week and he earns roughly $84 a week before taxes. With the minimum wage proposed by the legislation, that amount could rise to about $106 per week.
Other OSU student employees agreed with Yang.
“That would be great to have that big of an increase,” said Meghan Dannemiller, a second-year in English who works at the Terra Byte Cafe, where she makes $7.95 per hour. “It would definitely be a big bonus for everyone if it goes through.”
Andrew Todd-Smith contributed to this article.