Committee voted to raise wage to $10.10 by 2017
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Dec. 18, 2014) — Mayor Greg Fischer said on Wednesday that he supports raising the minimum wage to $8.75 an hour—which could lead to an annual salary increase of $3,120 for a person working full-time—but he’s not willing to gamble losing 2,000 existing jobs by going to a higher rate and “hurting the very people we are trying to help.”
The Louisville Metro Council labor and economic development committee on Monday voted 3-2 in favor of raising the minimum wage. The proposed wage hike would raise the minimum wage to $8.10 on July 1, 2015, $9.15 on July 1, 2016 and $10.10 on July 1, 2017.
Fischer said he has heard from numerous local companies that they could close, move to another city or nearby county or lay off employees if the local minimum wage jumps to $10.10 an hour.
“Some people want $10.10 while others want no increase at all,” Fischer said. “In my view, this requires a balanced approach and $8.75 is a good middle ground.”
Fischer highlighted four manufacturing companies—Packaging Unlimited, Koch Filter, Custom Quality Services and Mesa Foods—all of which are located in or near Western Louisville and comprise about 2,000 jobs.
“Losing any job hurts our economy, but losing jobs in Western Louisville, where nearly 1 in 4 are unemployed, would be a significant blow,” Fischer said. “I’m not willing to risk the livelihoods of 2,000 families.”
Fischer said those four companies often hire people that others will not, including those with criminal records and low education levels.
“I support raising the minimum wage on a state and national level,” Fischer said. “However, increasing the wage locally must be considered in the context of job losses since our surrounding counties will not be increasing their minimum wages. Increasing the wage to $8.75 an hour appears to be an area where local job loss would be minimized and many people would still benefit from the increase.”
Fischer said he is most concerned about manufacturing businesses that have a high cost of labor as part of their total business expenses.
There are 35,000 jobs in Louisville that pay $9 an hour or less and 2,200 jobs that pay $8 hourly or less, according to Census data.
“I reiterate my support for a statewide and nationwide increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 and ask all advocates to work with me and others on this issue,” he said.
Four states have voted recently to raise their minimum wages and all are near Louisville’s proposed increase (Arkansas, $8.50; Nebraska, $9; South Dakota, $8.50 and Alaska, $9.75)