COMMENTARY: Foresters’ view on the $15/hour minimum wage

By Kennon Morris / Feb. 25, 2020

The Virginia Forest Products Association represents mainly small independent businesses in the forest products industry throughout rural Virginia—from sawmills, to loggers, to truck drivers, to equipment dealers.

Our industry accounts for approximately 108,000 jobs with an industry impact of $21 billion to the commonwealth, representing the third largest contributor to the state’s economy.

We are primarily located in rural Virginia, where the cost of living is lower. But we supply jobs and revenue all across the state, something I am not sure people in urban Virginia really understand.

Our industry is very capital and labor intensive. We all know that the key to our success is our employees, both skilled and unskilled. We must pay our employees a good fair wage and benefits to retain them. They are our main asset driving our success.

We also know that we cannot pay an employee minimum wage and retain their services. Why is that? The minimum wage is just that—a minimum to pay someone. It was never intended by the government to be a livable wage.

The real gauge of a livable wage is an employees’ skill, work ethic, attitude, and what an employer’s revenues and expenses will bear.

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