Minimum wage changes may not affect competition among businesses for employees

Minnesota joins 19 other states raising its minimum wage at the beginning of the new year. Most businesses will have to pay workers at least $9.86 cents an hour.

While Minnesota’s minimum wage is going up, Wisconsin’s minimum wage remains at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. But businesses and experts say wages aren’t the only thing that creates competition for workers in the Coulee Region.

The payroll is being processed right now for the employees at Bauer’s Market in La Crescent.

“Because the dating of these checks will be in our new year, some people will be receiving a bit of a bump,” said Bruce Bauer, owner of Bauer’s Market and Garden Center.

He has a few workers making minimum wage, but they can work their way up. Bauer has one worker who has been with the company since she was in high school.

“She’s making more than minimum wage because again, the longevity of time but also her attributes to the company and how she takes care of our patrons,” Bauer said.

Anne Hlavacka, director of the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center, said in this economy, most employers have to go beyond the minimum.

“Being at $9 or $9.50 or $10 even really is not that unusual for most employers to have to be contemplating,” Hlavacka said.

Because of a low unemployment rate in both states and other factors, businesses have to be as attractive as possible to find employees.

“Making it so that employees feel that they can grow in a position, achieve a higher wage over time is I think important to individuals,” Hlavacka said.

But wage isn’t everything. People are also looking for good benefits, like loan repayment programs.

“Having employer-sponsored benefits that may surround those issues will become, I think, increasingly attractive,” Hlavacka said.

For consumers, Bauer said he has six employees that are currently making minimum wage. Because the change in pay is relatively small, he does not believe he’ll have to increase prices at all.

The reason why Minnesota is getting an increase in its minimum wage is because of the rate of inflation. Under state law, the Department of Labor and Industry has to review it each year by the end of August and then determine the amount and how that will affect wages.

Get your weather forecast from people that actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.