Workers cautious of minimum wage increase

Posted Online: July 12, 2014, 2:10 pm
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By Tyler Langan
Local minimum-wage workers would love a pay hike, but say they're nervous that it could result in the loss of jobs and increase the cost of living.

In November, voters will be asked to vote -- in a non-binding advisory referendum -- on whether to raise the minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to $10 for workers older than 18.

Bill Polley, an associate economics professor at Western Illinois University in Macomb, said increasing the minimum wage could increase unemployment among those seeking minimum-wage jobs, because "it puts the business in a situation where it either has to raise the prices on what it's selling or cut back hours."

Stefan Dipple, who has worked in retail and service, said if the minimum wage is increased, he thinks the cost of food and services will increase along with it.

"It would just basically increase the cost of goods because the higher-ups don't want it to get into their money, so they'll raise the prices on the products," said Mr. Dipple, who works at Jimmy John's in Davenport.

He said he would consider looking for jobs in Illinois if the minimum wage increased, but doesn't want to see jobs cut because of a wage hike.

"I'm 26 years old," he said. "I can't pay back student loans because I'm working for $7.75, $8 an hour. It's almost impossible just to get by between paychecks. I mean, how am I supposed to pay for anything else?

"It's kind of a Catch-22 situation," Mr. Dipple said, adding that if the minimum wage is increased, a few jobs likely will be cut to offset the cost.

Increased costs also are a concern for Patrick Martinez, a brewer at Bent River Brewing in Rock Island. "Big corporations will raise prices whenever they want to," he said. "If they're not making their money, they're just going to raise prices."

Mr. Martinez said he would vote for a minimum wage increase, but would like a solution that wouldn't potentially increase the cost of living.

Ben Moon, who works in the kitchen at Miss Mamie's restaurant in Moline, said independent businesses like Miss Mamie's likely will increase prices to customers or cut back his hours.

"It's kind of like a two-edged sword," he said. "I do look at it from the perspective of, 'I'm making more money,' but the business I'm working at is losing that extra money."


Local events heading

  Today is Monday, Sept. 1, the 244th day of 2014. There are 121 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: We are informed by J.H. Hull that the reason the street sprinkler was not at work yesterday settling the dust on the streets, was because one of his horses was injured.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Bonnie McGregor, a fleet-footed stallion owned by S.W. Wheelock of this community, covered himself with glory at Lexington, Ky, when he ran a mile in 2:13 1/2. The horse's value was estimated as at least $50,000.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Troops are pouring into Paris to prepare for defense of the city. The German army is reported to be only 60 miles from the capital of France.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The German army has invaded Poland in undeclared warfare. Poland has appealed to Great Britain and France for aid.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Publication of a plant newspaper, the Farmall Works News, has been launched at the Rock Island IHC factory and replaces a managerial newsletter.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Officials predict Monday's Rock Island Labor Parade will be the biggest and best ever. Last minute work continues on floats and costumes for the parade, which steps off a 9:30 a.m.

(More History)