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Policy group: Higher minimum wage saves lives

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(The Center Square) – An economic public policy group believes a minimum wage increase would save thousands of lives across the state.

Columbus-based Scioto Analysis recently released a new cost-benefit analysis of the impact of raising the minimum wage. The analysis says raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour would save about 4,100 lives over the next decade.

Currently, two plans – one a proposed ballot measure and the other legislation introduced in the Ohio Senate – could increase the minimum wage in the state.

More than a year ago, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce said it opposed a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage.

“The Ohio Chamber of Commerce believes that free-market forces result in appropriate wages for workers. Ohio already has a minimum wage which is indexed for inflation. The results of this ballot initiative will be more automation, less jobs and picking winners and losers; it punishes some of the very people it purports to help,” Chamber CEO Steve Stivers said.

The analysis estimated that 73,000 people in Ohio could lose their jobs if the minimum wage were increased, but it said the economic value of a rate hike is greater.

“Using commonly accepted values for the costs and benefits, we estimate that raising the minimum wage in Ohio will generate about $25 billion in economic value for the state by 2036. The benefit of reducing deaths outweighs unemployment costs from an economic perspective,” the report authors said.

The report also pointed to research that showed minimum wage increases can lower suicide rates, prevent homicides and lower infant mortality.

The ballot initiative pushing to get on the November ballot would grow the non-tipped minimum wage to $15 by 2026 and make the tipped wage equal to the non-tipped wage by 2029.

As previously reported by The Center Square, in May, Sen. Louis Blessing III, R-Colerain Township, introduced legislation that would gradually increase the minimum wage until it reaches $15 per hour by 2028. It would also grow the non-tipped wage to half that.

Currently, the basic minimum wage is $10.45 per hour and increases annually based on the consumer price index.

It jumped Jan. 1 to $10.45 for nontipped employees and to $5.25 an hour for tipped employees for businesses with annual gross receipts of more than $385,000. That increase was expected to benefit nearly 400,000 Ohio workers.

A year ago, the minimum wage was $10.10 for nontipped and $5.05 for tipped.

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