The new Democrat-majority Congress is likely to try to raise minimum wages very soon, and I wonder how a change might hurt (or help) manufacturing companies like plastics processors. The traditional wisdom is that a hike would hurt manufacturers because, even if they already pay more than the minimum, they will feel pressure to boost pay in order to compete with service industry employers. Eventually, that could result in fewer jobs, because manufacturers will automate, or companies will move production to cheaper locales. Participants in our recent Web poll at PlasticsNews.com, however, didn't seem to think so. Allan Griff, a Bethesda, Md., consultant and one my favorite letter writers to Plastics News, had this to say about the issue:
Raising the minimum wage will not hurt us, but not just for the reason you gave. Raising the minimum wage will put more money in the hands of workers, who will use it to buy things (our products) rather than invest or save (good things in themselves, but not direct stimulants to the use of plastic products). We would do well, in general, to ask where money is going, and not just to squeal every time our pockets are raided, be it by taxes, wages or military budgets. In many cases, such as this one, much of that money comes right back around again.For more on the topic of minimum wages, here's an interesting story that's on the Christian Science Monitor's Web site today.