JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – Jackson Mayor Derek Dobies says the time is now to take another step forward in the fight against poverty in the city.
“We live in a city where one in three live under the federal poverty level and even more are asset limited and income restrained. We have to do something about this,” said Jackson Mayor, Derek Dobies.
That’s why he proposing raising the minimum wage to 15.68 for city employees, government contractors, and other companies receiving grants or funding from the city. That’s a pay boost in some cases of nearly six dollars an hour based on the state’s current wages.
“We have generational poverty here that has only been exasperated by the pandemic and we cannot as a city pass policy that is going to further exasperated that or normalize some of the poverty that we see here. We have to confront it head-on and we have to be intentional about it and I think this policy does that,” said Dobies.
The mayor adds pay rates would adjust annually based on poverty rates. It’s an idea that’s been put in place in more than 120 cities across the country—including 15 similar policies in Michigan cities.
CEO of the Jackson United Way Ken Toll says research shows the advantages go beyond people’s wallets.
“People are less depressed,” says Toll. “People are much more healthy because they are able to access health care. They’re good overall and they only raise costs less than one percent for the businesses that are affected by the increase, so it’s a net win. Every bit of research shows that this is a good policy and it will help a whole lot of families.
Mayor Dobies says he hopes that bringing this proposal forward will help create a ripple effect for other groups to do the same.
“I think there is naturally going to be a rise in wages that we are going to see in the private sector and in the non-profits sector as well.”
The proposal will be introduced at next Tuesday’s city hall meeting.