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Report: Increasing Ohio's minimum wage to $13 would help working poor

Posted at 10:10 PM, Feb 07, 2020

CLEVELAND — A report released by Policy Matters Ohio indicates 1.4 million Ohioans would benefit if the state raised its minimum wage to $13 an hour.

Researcher Michael Shields said the data indicates Ohio workers have continued to improve their efficiency over the past 50 years, but Ohio wages have failed to keep pace with rising costs.

“The Ohio minimum wage today leaves a family of three about $3,600 short of the poverty level,” Shields said. “Ohio workers are 88 percent more productive than we were in 1968, and 1969, but wages for the poorest workers have actually fallen over the same time period, by 28 percent."

The report released as the group Ohioans for Raising the Wage prepares to collect the more than 450,000 signature needed to place an increase to $13 an hour on the November ballot.

The signatures would have to come from 44 of Ohio's 88 counties and would need to be gathered by July 1.

Shields said Ohio business organizations have been traditionally against raising the minimum wage over concerns about rising operating costs and the need to increase prices to consumers. But Shields said the data shows increasing the minimum wage would have a minimal impact on prices, especially in the restaurant industry.

“We would expect a $10 restaurant menu item to increase in price by about 19 cents,” Shields said. “If the minimum wage were increased to $13, the people who would benefit from this are adults aged 20+. That’s about 87 percent of the work force, and we found that 360,000 working parents would benefit.”

The Northeast Ohio Coalition of the Homeless agreed an increase in the minimum wage is desperately needed to help northeast Ohio's working poor.

Coalition Communications Coordinator Molly Martin said the hike to $13 an hour would just be a start for many of the area's needy families.

Martin said the Ohio minimum wage is directly connected to Northeast Ohio's lack of affordable housing.

“The proposed $13 minimum wage in Ohio is great, but really reflects what that wage would be for one single adult," Martin said. “If you’re an adult that works with a child, the minimum wage that you would need to make in order to account for the cost of housing would be over $22 an hour. We need an actual living wage policy to get people out of poverty, and that depends on development and what cities you live in. The cost of housing is a huge component on whether someone will be able to escape poverty.”