LANSING —The Michigan Legislature’s vote this month in favor of scaling back the state’s minimum wage increase will likely benefit Michigan farmers and employers.
That’s according to Craig Anderson, manager of labor and safety regulatory assistance for the Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB), who said the new version of SB 1171 will have a “stabilizing positive effect” for the state’s agriculture industry.
Currently, the new version of SB 1171 would raise the state’s minimum wage to $12.05 an hour and cap tipped workers’ pay at $4 per hour, up from the current rate of $3.52, over a period of 11 years.
If signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, the Legislature’s recent version of SB 1171 amends a citizen-initiated bill that had minimum wages starting at $12 an hour by 2022, with wages increasing yearly in contingent with inflation.
In an agriculture industry where “needs vary season to season,” Anderson said the amended SB 1171 eliminates some of the price inflators that likely would have affected all employers over the next several years if the bill were passed, specifically Michigan farmers.
For example, he said the Consumer Price Index for All Urban (CPI-U) projection for wages is expected to double — and in some cases triple — for employers between 2019 and 2030, the time period for SB 1171’s minimum wage requirements.
“We believe this is a victory for all employers and employees,” Anderson said. “If you take a look at those preceding rates ... and when you apply those rates, we could have in 2030, for example, hourly wages starting at $17 an hour and a high (wage total) of $27 an hour. If we had a high inflation rate for the next five years, we could have very significant increases.”
If the minimum wage were to “nearly double” for employees over the next several years, per some projections, it would force agriculture employers to re-evaluate their hiring process, Anderson said.
“How do I gain experience without experience? In our industry, that’s one of the most significant challenges,” Anderson said. “In many regulatory eyes, we are an entry-level job, (and) our job takes a significant amount of skill. The need today is not for career-based pay but for career-based skills, and that goes for not just for the ag industry but for all industries that are hiring entry-level positions.”