Raising the minimum wage

Updated: Friday, February 21, 2014
Raising the minimum wage story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The White House effort to raise the minimum wage nearly three dollars-an-hour over the next two years has drawn huge criticism from the right.

But our Tom Van Howe, who tonight is back in his corner, says once you get past the rhetoric, a wage hike for some of our poorest people is an idea that’s long overdue.


Are there problems with this new wage proposal? Sure. There are with any new law.

But getting straight to the heart of the matter: getting by--assuming you’re working full-time--on less than $15,000 a year is no picnic. This proposed wage hike would put a substantial amount of cash--something like $100 a week--in the pockets of more than 16 million workers.

It would move roughly a million people out of poverty.

And guess what those workers will do with that extra money? They’ll spend it. They’ll pump billions of new dollars back in to local markets.

One writer for a national magazine says those billions don’t mean that much in our $17-trillion dollar economy; that it’s hardly worth the effort.

He’s missing the point.

It would mean working people, young and old, would get a 30 percent wage increase. These are working people. These are not people on the dole. We’re not talking about handouts or welfare fraud.

And while twenty grand a year is hardly the American dream, it’s a step toward dignity...Toward a tiny bit of breathing room.

Republicans are citing a Congressional Budget Office report that says a wage increase will cost us a million jobs.

Well, that’s not quite what it said. The CBO report  was vague  and said the hike could cause the loss of somewhere between none and a million jobs. Many economists are leaning toward the White House  view that job loss will be at the low end of the spectrum.

Some job loss is probably inevitable. It’ll push some employers to cut back, others to accelerate automation. But that’ll happen eventually anyway.

And before you absorb all the anti-wage hike rhetoric, take a closer look at the growing disparity between the people we’re talking about here and the incredibly rich.

  • Even at $10.10 an hour, the U.S. minimum wage will be lower after adjustments for inflation that it was in 1975.

  • The 85 richest people on earth have the same amount of wealth as the lower half of the world’s population.

  • Those 85 people are just a handful of the richest one percent who have 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the population. Sixty-five times!

  • American corporations have more than $2 trillion tucked away in off-shore and foreign banks to avoid the reach of the IRS. Actually, its probably more than that. We don’t know for sure.

  • In this country, since the start of the recovery four years ago, 95 percent of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent. No trickle down. They got two great tax cuts in the last decade, but nothing trickled down.

  • CEO's are still taking home 300 times the earnings of the average worker.

So can someone please give me a convincing argument that those who struggle most don’t  deserve $2.85 an hour more than they’re getting now?

In this corner...I’m Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on October 02, 2015 17:45 GMT


WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. hiring slowed sharply last month and previous job gains were revised lower amid a broad slowdown in the global economy.

The Labor Department says employers added just 142,000 jobs in September as manufacturers and oil drillers shed workers. Hiring in July and August was revised lower by 59,000.

The unemployment rate remained 5.1 percent, but only because more Americans stopped looking for work. The proportion of Americans working or searching for jobs fell to a new 38-year low.

Average hourly wages also slipped by a penny and have risen a tepid 2.2 percent in the past year.

U.S. consumers are spending at a healthy pace, boosting job gains in sectors like retail and hotels and restaurants. But lackluster growth overseas has sharply reduced exports of factory goods.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Orders to U.S. factories fell in August by the largest amount in eight months, led by a drop in demand for commercial airplanes and weakness in a key category that tracks business investment spending.

The Commerce Department says factory orders declined 1.7 percent in August after a slight gain of 0.2 percent in July. It was the biggest setback since orders dropped 3.7 percent in December.

Demand in a key category that serves as a proxy for business investment slipped 0.8 percent in August, following solid gains of 1.9 percent in July and 1.5 percent in June.

Manufacturing has been under stress this year as a strong dollar has hurt export sales. The big fall in energy prices has also resulted in cutbacks in investment by energy companies.


NEW YORK (AP) -- Wal-Mart has laid off 450 workers at its headquarters as the world's largest retailer attempts to become more nimble to compete with the likes of Amazon.com.

There are about 18,000 people who work at the headquarters Bentonville, Arkansas. The cuts were across all areas, from finance to global e-commerce. The company says that the employees were spoken to individually early on Friday.

The cuts follow months of rumors about job headquarters cuts and they were announced a month and a half after Wal-Mart cut its annual earnings outlook.


BERLIN (AP) -- Volkswagen subsidiary Audi says customers in Germany can now go to its website to see if their vehicles are among those installed with software that the company says was used to manipulate U.S. emissions testing.

Audi said Friday that customers in Germany could enter their car's serial number on the www.audi.de site to see if their car is affected. Audi says the function will be extended worldwide over national Audi sites in the coming week.

The company says customers can also go to Audi dealers to check on their vehicles, and that a fix will be presented to authorities in October.

Affected are some 2.1 million Audis with the 1.6 or 2 .0 liter TDI diesel motors with the designation EA 189 that are approved for the EU5 emissions standard.


BERLIN (AP) -- A German industry group says that German car exports were up 7 percent in September compared with a year earlier, while new registrations of cars at home climbed 5 percent.

The VDA group said Friday that German manufacturers exported 417,800 cars last month. It didn't give a breakdown of the destinations but pointed to rising demand elsewhere in western Europe.

In Germany itself, registrations of both German-made and foreign-branded cars climbed 5 percent to a total 272,500. VDA said that new registrations of diesel cars accounted for about 47 percent of the total and were up 8 percent.

The group didn't break down the number of cars sold at home and exported by individual manufacturers. News of the Volkswagen diesel emissions-rigging scandal in the U.S. emerged Sept. 18.


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's state TV is reporting that Royal Dutch Shell and France's Total will be the first foreign companies to be allowed to operate gasoline stations inside Iran.

The Press TV English-language channel quotes the head of Iran's filling stations union, Bijan Haj Mohammadreza, as saying 100 new licenses have been issued to each company.

Until now, the only retail service stations belonged to the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company.

The agreement comes after Iran and world powers reached a deal in July that curbs the Persian country's disputed nuclear program in return for the lifting of international economic sanctions.


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- A regulatory agency says the nation's first offshore wind farm has experienced safety and welding problems and regulators are closely monitoring construction.

Deepwater Wind is building a five-turbine wind farm off Block Island, Rhode Island.

Inspection reports cite near misses with dropped objects, personnel working under suspended loads, the use of older cranes poorly suited to the environment and the repeated failure of rigging equipment.

The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council says the safety problems have been addressed.

It's working with Deepwater Wind to ensure the problem with the welding process is only a paperwork issue. The welds passed inspections.

Deepwater says it's confident in the project's progress.

Construction began in July. The wind farm is expected to generate power by the end of 2016.


PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- Some fishermen say Maine regulators' plan to place new restrictions on the scalloping industry is the right way to ensure the fishery keeps rebuilding.

Maine's meaty scallops are prized in restaurants and fish markets. Fishermen caught more than 4.9 million pounds of the scallops last year, up from less than 700,000 pounds five years earlier. Catches sometimes topped 10 million pounds in the 1990s.

Fishery managers say the scallops need additional protections along the state's southern coast. They want to close some spots to fishing and reduce the number of fishing days from 70 to 60 in the area.

Portland-based scallop fisherman Alex Todd supports the restrictions. He says fishing pressure on scallops is up because prices have been high.

Washington Times