Opinion: Minimum Wage Increase Good For Latino Business Owners Too


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Photo: Illinois.gov
By Evelyn Mantilla
CTLatinoNews.com Contributor  

The debate about the proposed increases to Connecticut’s minimum wage rightfully includes some concerns from the small business community.  Among Latinos, small businesses provide an economic engine that contributes to the benefit of the entire community;  this is exactly the  reason why Latinos and their small businesses stand to benefit from this proposal.  When families rise out of poverty, countless doors are open to lives of stability and security. This inevitably makes for a stronger, contributing workforce and a community that can help its own to build a vibrant economy. Raising the minimum wage is good for local businesses, communities, families and the state as a whole.
It may, sound counter-intuitive but a higher minimum wage is actually good for local businesses and communities.  That’s because reaching a goal of a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour requires a sensible, graduated implementation, which is why this proposal introduces small, incremental increases over the next three years.  This will immediately help approximately 70,000 Connecticut residents who are struggling to make ends meet, without putting an undue burden on employers.  With increased purchasing power, these lower wage earners will be putting these dollars back into the local economy by shopping at local businesses for products they need.
Employers also stand to benefit from providing wages that help families lead more stable lives.  Higher employee morale and lower turnover rates translate into higher productivity and better business earnings.  When workers live with fewer worries about their home life, particularly as it relates to their children, they are in a much better position to contribute to the ultimate success of their employer.
A higher minimum wage is necessary if we truly care about “family values.” Whether we like it or not, our region’s cost of living leaves countless families behind.  When full time workers have to choose between buying food or other daily necessities and paying their bills, there is little room for supporting their neighborhood economy.  When housing costs segregate the poor into concentrated neighborhoods, there is precious little money that can flow through that local economy, hurting existing small businesses and depressing the opportunities for new ones.
Gone are the days when minimum wage earners were teens, college students and seniors working to make extra spending money. An estimated 60% of Connecticut’s full-time minimum wage earners are women – most of them trying to support family. Turning “minimum wage” into a “living wage” is not only the morally right thing to do; it’s an impactful way to ensure that fewer children are not being raised in poverty.
Lastly, a minimum wage hike will actually result in long term savings for the state. A higher minimum wage means less help from government, benefiting local, state and federal budgets.  Most minimum wage jobs do not provide health insurance coverage, further making people rely on government assistance.
An increase in the minimum wage is an investment in our families, our local businesses and our state.