Survey: 62% of small Michigan businesses forced to raise pay

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A majority of small businesses in Michigan have increased wages to combat labor shortages, according to a new survey by the Small Business Association of Michigan.

The survey results report 62% of businesses have increased wages since the start of 2020 to attract and maintain employees. Twenty four percent of respondents reported increasing employee compensation by more than 10%.

The strategy has proved successful for the downtown Grand Rapids restaurant Roam.

Roam general manager Nolyn Schneider said they have raised wages by 30 to 40% to attract and maintain employees. 

Schneider said raising wages was successful as they are finally fully staffed after months of struggling to find workers.

While increasing wages worked for Roam, SBAM President Brian Calley says the results are mixed.

“We’re hearing all over the place and in nearly every industry that increases, even very substantial increases in salaries, are still not attracting many applicants in the first place,” Calley said.

Although the labor shortage is more visible in the retail and food service industries, nearly half of the businesses surveyed are in the professional services industry.

“The worker shortage goes across nearly every industry,” Calley said. “Whether you’re in manufacturing, construction, professional services.”

The survey also asked businesses for their opinion when it comes to the government imposing vaccine mandates for employees.

SBAM sent out the survey shortly after President Biden’s announcement on Sept. 9, saying businesses with more than 100 employees must require vaccinations or weekly testing for their employees.

Sixty two percent of business surveyed opposed the vaccine mandate, with 29% in favor. The remaining 13% responded “no opinion.”

“It wasn’t surprising to me that our members oppose a vaccine mandate as a condition of employment, especially as they’re facing staff and worker shortages,” Calley said.

Under Biden’s proposed plan, only 7% of the businesses surveyed meet the 100 employee threshold to be impacted by the mandate.

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