Editorial: Thumbs-up to employers for wage bump

The Editorial Advisory Board
Stormont Vail Health

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

That means that if you work a full-time job at minimum wage — 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year — you will earn a whopping $15,080 annual salary. That’s unacceptable for a plethora of reasons, the main one being that no worker can survive on such a paltry amount, let alone support a family.

So it’s important for us to note when a big employer in our region goes above and beyond. We’d like to praise Stormont Vail Health, then, for raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour, an important step. This makes Stormont Vail both a more attractive employer for potential workers, as well as one that supports those on the lower end of the pay scale.

The move toward a higher minimum wage has caught fire across the country. Some states have taken action on their own, while some large businesses — Amazon and Target among them — have done so, too.

Kansas, unfortunately, hasn’t taken action on the state level. That puts downward pressure on families and workers just beginning their careers. That also makes it easier for big employers with cash on hand to raise wages unilaterally, and puts pressure on smaller businesses that may simply not have the cushion to do so.

We understand the minimum wage can be controversial. Whole books could be written on the topic, and indeed have been.

But surely the more businesses and institutions that offer a living wage, the better it is for all of us. Yes, some prices may increase if it means paying workers more. But workers making more will likely be better motivated and more likely to stay at a business — thus ultimately reducing training and recruitment costs.

After a decade-long economic recovery that was distinguished by both its sluggishness and the gigantic amount of wealth accumulated by those at the very top, workers in Kansas and across the nation are justified in being skeptical about their employers. Surely we can all agree that someone who puts in an honest day’s worth has the right to a wage that supports himself or herself and their loved ones?

Kudos to those employers making that happen right now. And for those who might not be able to make that work right now, we understand. We hope the state and federal governments will support a more equitable structure — and support workers across the board.