LANSING, Mich. — Ingham County is floating the idea of raising the minimum wage for county employees to $15 as the Biden administration pushes to increase wages nationally.
County Commissioner Emily Stivers said increasing the minimum wage could help stimulate the county’s economy.
“For those workers, it would make a direct impact in their lives that I think would trickle up and affect the whole community,” she said.
Biden’s plan to bump minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 over the next four years is at the center of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill.
Michigan’s minimum wage is $9.65, making it one of 29 states with minimum wages already above the federal minimum.
Ingham County has more than 1,500 employees. Seasonal workers are the only ones earning less than $15 an hour. In a given year, there are roughly 190 seasonal county employees work for the county parks department and at Potter Park Zoo.
While the exact cost of the proposal depends on several factors, upping wages to $15 an hour for the 89 seasonal employees who worked at the zoo in 2019 would’ve cost the county about $214,000.
Although he wasn’t opposed to the motion to increase minimum wage, Commissioner Mark Grebner has logistical concerns. Grebner said he worried it could block the county from being able to revive programs it used to have that provided jobs to people who struggled to find employment.
The soonest Ingham County could approve this measure is the fiscal year 2022.
“We’re in the really early stages of discussing this idea," said Stivers. "We still want to be ready for if that happens at the federal level so that we can jump on it really quickly.”
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