Myth: Increases in the minimum wage tend to increase the cost of goods, offsetting the raise in the first place.
Fact: 6.6% of workers in Nova Scotia make minimum wage, and 32% of workers make less than fifteen dollars. With such a large proportion of the population effectively getting a raise, spending power increases, and demand will rise – offsetting some of the supposed ill effects. Likewise, wages are not the biggest contributors to prices: economic crises, fluctuations in oil markets, and federal currency policies are much greater factors in setting prices. Studies from the US and recent events have shown that increases in prices are negligible and have little impact on existing inflation.
Myth: Minimum wage increases are going to hurt small businesses!
Fact: In Ontario, only 17% of minimum wage workers work for small businesses, in fact, the majority work for large chains and big firms with more than 500 employees, who can easily weather even large increases to their employee’s wages. Also, minimum wage increases tend to direct money to workers who spend it locally, thus benefitting local and small businesses!
Myth: Employers can’t afford a high minimum wage, people will lose their jobs.
Fact: Though often repeated, this claim or threat from business is not shown to be true! In a comprehensive study of minimum wage increases in Canada between 1983 and 2012, researchers found “no consistent evidence that minimum wage levels affect employment in either direction” (Brennan & Stanford, 2014). Likewise, recent experiences in American cities and in Canada have shown that job losses are minimal and can be attributed to long-standing patterns of precarious employment.
In fact, six months after Ontario increased the minimum wage by $2.40 to $14/hour, the province experienced their lowest unemployment rate in 18 years!
Myth: Only teenagers and students work minimum wage jobs.
Fact: This simply isn’t true. 86% of low wage workers are 20 or older, 85% are not students and most are permanent, full-time employees. Which demographic would benefit from a raise? Women- who comprise over half of minimum wage workers in Nova Scotia.