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2021 Small Business

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Learn all sides of the minimum wage increase debate

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Discussions about increasing the federal minimum wage are starting to reverberate through small businesses across the country. Of course, the idea is nothing new – it’s been a talking point for years and has even been implemented in some states (largely on the West Coast).

But as President Biden and a majority Democratic Congress introduce legislation, the potential impacts of the plan will grab the attention of small business owners – and their employees. That’s evidenced by the increase in articles and opinion pieces published in news outlets everywhere.

As a small business owner, I’d encourage you to remove the political framing of the conversation and try to understand the impacts based on facts.

Let’s start with this: A federal minimum wage of $0.25/hour was introduced in 1938, and you can imagine the uproar from small businesses that were only paying their farm workers $0.15/hour at the time.

In fact, every time there’s been an increase to the minimum wage, the uproar has been palpable, and that will probably be the case this time.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll dive into this issue from our perspective, but I want to pass along some of the stories we’ve compiled in today’s Digest that touch on the issue (and even offer you a few more links worth reading).

We’d encourage you to start understanding the issue by reading what the Congressional Budget Office has to say about an increase in the federal minimum wage. There are pluses and minuses, and this is an easy presentation to follow.

The first story, which we found from a Michigan TV station, actually does a very good job of telling you what’s being considered. Any Google search will return hundreds of similar articles, but if you want something quick and easy to read, THIS is a good place to start.

Obviously, it’s important to hear what the biggest employers in the country think of this proposal, so reading what Amazon thinks is worth the time.

We found another story from the opposing side, but this goes further than just minimum wage. The two authors of this piece talk about how difficult a year this has been for small businesses and cap it off with their opinion of how a minimum wage will impact owners.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has come out strongly against the proposal. Here is their letter to Congress.

If you’re into this sort of thing, this article (published through the Department of Labor) gives you an un-opinionated history of the minimum wage.

As the debate over an increase in wages small businesses must pay ramps up, the most important thing you can do is to be personally informed. These articles are a good place to start. And at some point soon, we’ll give you our opinion.


Jonathan McElvy is the CEO of McElvy Partners. His company includes the Greensheet, The Leader, Fort Bend Star, Charlotte Media Group, Coastal Bend Publishing and Texas Printers. He has managed and owned small businesses for 20 years. If your business would like to talk more about your individual needs, click HERE for contact information. You can follow him on Twitter @mcelvy.