GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The new year marks a pay hike for minimum wage workers in Michigan.
Starting Wednesday, businesses are required to pay their employees at least $9.65 per hour, a 20-cent increase from the 2019 rate.
In 2018, Michigan citizens initiated a ballot proposal that would have increased base pay to $12 by the year 2022. After criticism by business lobbyists, a Republican-led Legislature killed the proposal and instead introduced a gradual plan that will pay workers $12 by 2030.
“It doesn’t seem like much, but if you add 20 cents across the bit of the year, maybe that’s an extra car payment. I think any increase is good especially as inflation goes up, wages should go up too,” former business owner Mike Coleman said.
The increase will affect businesses large and small. For gratuity-based positions, like waiting tables or bartending, businesses will be required to pay workers $3.67 per hour. That’s an eight-cent increase from last year.
“It’s not enough, definitely not enough,” said Meral Topcu of Grand Rapids. “People are working two and three jobs just to make ends meet. It has to be at least $15, if not more.”
Topcu says the plan is a step in the right direction but it’s not a realistic wage for families.
“I was a poor student for a long time so I definitely understand not making ends meet but I was working on my education. So I knew there was a way to get out of that but lots of people do not have that luxury so we definitely need to take care of our people,” Topcu said.
“I was glad to hear that they’re paying them more but I actually was surprised to hear it was only $9.65,” said Martha Kiyander of East Grand Rapids, who was also skeptical of the pay hike method. “It’s tough for a single person, if you have two people making that wage then that’s a little bit more workable. If you’re trying to support two people or a family, it’s hard.”
News 8 could not immediately find anyone against the pay hike to go on camera, but Coleman, the former business owner, said he believes it will have an impact on small businesses.
“We would have just had to make some adjustments and be more creative. You either adapt or you don’t make it. Businesses will work it out. (It’s) good for people,” Coleman said.
The minimum wage rate will continue to go up annually until it reaches $12 as a part of the current mandate. Next year, businesses will be required to pay their workers $9.87 per hour.