Governor O'Malley today toured the Linemark printing plant in Upper Marlboro, Md. and joined a group of business owners for a roundtable discussion to show their support for increasing Maryland's minimum wage.
Governor O'Malley, as a part of his administration's ongoing efforts to strengthen and grow Maryland's middle class, has proposed raising the minimum wage as one of his top priorities for the 2014 legislative session. On Monday, his proposal continued to advance through the General Assembly with a favorable vote from the Economic Matters Committee to increase the minimum wage to $10.10. A vote on the bill is expected later this week on the House floor.
"Nobody who works full time should have to raise their family in poverty," Governor O'Malley said. "These business leaders understand what Henry Ford understood 100 years ago: paying workers more is good for business. Raising the minimum wage reduces employee turnover, increases productivity, and generates more economic activity. I'm proud to stand here with these employers today and call on the General Assembly to give Maryland a raise."
Fifteen business owners representing retail, service and manufacturing, along with restaurant proprietors from across the state, participated in the discussion to highlight the importance of raising the minimum wage. The conversation touched on a number of valuable benefits associated with raising the wage including increased worker productivity and product quality, reduced employee turnover, and higher customer satisfaction and consumer demand, among others.
"Gradually raising the minimum wage to $10.10 makes good business sense. Paying fair wages helped our business expand to nine stores with nearly 200 employees. Our employees know we value them, and we know they value our customers. A higher minimum wage would mean more money circulating in our local economy, boosting consumer demand and our local tax base," commented Gina Schaefer, a member of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, and owner of A Few Cool Hardware Stores -- a group of Ace Hardware stores in Maryland and Washington D.C.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, hundreds of thousands of Marylanders will receive a boost to their incomes with a minimum wage increase. The measure also stands to generate millions of dollars in new economic activity during the phase-in period and help create hundreds of jobs as consumer demand grows.
Currently 21 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wage rates higher than the federal level of $7.25 per hour. New Jersey's minimum wage is $8.25 and New York's is $8.00; the Pew Center for the States ranked both states in the top 3 for economic mobility, along with Maryland.