Readers Respond

Raising minimum wage would hurt small businesses and young workers | READER COMMENTARY

Members of SEIU 1199 union demonstrate outside the State House in Annapolis four years ago, urging Maryland lawmakers to pass a bill gradually increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour. The measure was approved but now Gov. Wes Moore wants to speed up the timetable - and tie the minimum wage to inflation. File. (Pamela Wood/Baltimore Sun).

I am sure I am not the only small business owner who takes antacid pills every time I hear Gov. Wes Moore’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and have automatic increases based on the consumer price index (”Maryland’s minimum wage should adjust with inflation,” March 2). Let’s think this through a little harder.

I own three Cold Stone Creamery stores in Maryland, and we start hiring our employees at age 15 when most kids are in the 10th grade. They come to us looking for their first job. Most have no work experience with little to no social skills and have no real understanding of how to multi-task. We have to invest a lot of effort into training these kids and hope that they stay. We have found that with each increment of the minimum wage increase these kids want to actually work less not more. They want a job in high school to make some extra spending cash, they are not raising a family.


If we had to pay a minimum wage of $15 per hour or more we would not hire high school kids but hire people with experience who are more mature, who know how to interact with customers and know how to multi-task. I have proposed the idea for a two-tier minimum wage program before. One minimum wage for those in high school and another higher minimum wage for those with a high school diploma. Give kids an incentive to stay in school and get their diploma all the while giving them the chance to work in high school.

Now, tying the minimum wage to the consumer price index is like putting the cart before the horse. One of the leading factors for inflation is the cost of labor. I know we have had to increase the price of our product after every raise in minimum wage. So if you automatically increase the minimum wage when consumer prices increase there will be no stopping how high minimum wage would become. It would create an unnatural rate of inflation that would stifle the economy. Let the free market set the price of labor.


If you have noticed with the short supply of labor recently, companies are raising starting wages to entice applicants. This is the law of supply and demand: Small labor supply and high labor demand equals increased starting labor rates. Then when a recession hits, the free market will adjust labor rates accordingly. If you have set a floor for the rate of labor in a recession, the free market can’t adjust naturally and business are forced to lay employees off or they fold as they can’t afford to pay minimum labor rates.

Small businesses are the heartbeat of the Maryland economy, our voice and opinions should matter more than keeping campaign promises. Please, Governor Moore, reconsider your minimum wage proposal and keep the heartbeat of Maryland strong.

— Mark Pringle, Lothian

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