MI minimum wage increase is only part of ongoing wage discussions


GVL / Aida Dennis

Chloe Schram, Staff Writer

This month, the minimum wage in Michigan was increased from $9.87 to $10.10 per hour.

The minimum wage could increase again in early February, depending on how the appellate court rules in ongoing legal battles based on a 2018 proposal. If raised, the move could bring many changes to Michigan. 

According to Bridge Michigan, the 2018 proposal was supposed to raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour in 2022. Before voters could determine whether or not to move forward with the new law, Republican lawmakers struck down the effort since they held majorities in both the House and the Senate. This sparked the court proceedings in hopes of implementing further changes with the potential to increase the minimum wage to $13.03 per hour if the court affirms in favor of the increase.

Attorneys have asked the Court of Appeals to decide by Feb. 1, but the court is not required to do so.

Erkmen Giray Aslim, an assistant professor of economics in the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University, said despite opposition to raising the minimum wage, the raise will benefit many people.

“There is always the argument that high wage floors, raising minimum wages, destroys jobs,” Aslim said. “Raising the minimum wage may reduce poverty and inequality in Michigan, while reducing reliance on public assistance.”

According to the Economic Policy Institute, low wages hurt all workers, but especially Black workers and workers of color. Additionally, low wages put women of color at a major disadvantage, as they are often underpaid.

The National Fund for Workforce Solutions reported that median wages for white workers with a high school diploma and no college education are higher than wages of Black workers with an associate’s degree.

“I think a safe spot for minimum wage is somewhere around 50 to 55% of the median wage in Michigan,” Aslim said. “Based on the 2021 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage was around $22, so we are slowly reaching that 50% range.” 

By increasing the minimum wage in Michigan, workers and employees would earn more per year to support their families and themselves. 

Clare Meteer, a junior studying business management and dance, said she supports raising the minimum wage.

“I think that the raise in minimum wage will help all working people in Michigan who are underpaid, especially those who are supporting families,” Meteer said.

Many students at GVSU are not only full-time students but also working employees. Meteer said she works multiple jobs on GVSU’s campus and thinks this change could possibly impact student workers.

“I think student employees do so much for Grand Valley that they all deserve higher wages as well,” Meteer said. “I hope to see another increase (in the minimum wage) so that student workers can make a fair wage while in school.”

The Economic Policy Institute estimated that if national efforts under the Raise the Wage act were to increase the national minimum wage to $15 by 2025, it would increase earnings of 21% of the workforce – approximately 32 million people. The institute also found that year-round workers affected by this change would see their pay increase by $3,300.

The National Employment Law Project reported that a national increase in the minimum wage by 2025 would allow 59% of workers whose family is below the poverty line to receive a pay increase.

Aslim said there could be additional benefits to the workforce other than solely the monetary aspect of the policy.  

“(With a higher minimum wage) there might also be more higher-wage jobs being created instead of losing lower-wage jobs,” Aslim said.