Workers cautious of minimum wage increase

Posted Online: July 12, 2014, 2:10 pm
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story
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 Thursday, July 31, the 212th day of 2014. There are 153 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: A corps of surgeons now occupies the new hospital quarters at the Garrison Hospital on the Rock Island Arsenal. A fence has been installed to enclose the prison hospital.
1889 -- 125 years ago: B. Winter has let a contract to Christ Schreiner for a two story brick building with a double store front on the south side of 3rd Avenue just west of 17th Street. The estimated cost was $4,500.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Germany sent simultaneous ultimatums to Russia and France, demanding that Russia suspend mobilization within 12 hours and demanding that France inform Germany within 18 hours. In the case of war between Germany and Russia, France would remain neutral.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Civil service offices at the post office and the Rock Island Arsenal were swamped as more than 700 youths sought 15 machinist apprenticeships at the Arsenal.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Last night, American Legion Post 246 in Moline figuratively handed over the trousers to a female ex-Marine and petticoat rule began. Olga Swanson, of Moline, was installed as the first woman commander of the post .
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Illinois Quad City Civic Center captured the excitement and interest of a convention of auditorium managers this weekend in Reno, Nev. Bill Adams, civic center authority chairman, said the 10,000-seat arena planned for downtown Moline has caught the eye of construction firms, suppliers, management teams and concession groups.

(More History)