Web extra: Minimum wage survey responses

The responses are from Editor Brian Horn's May 2021 column.

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May 7, 2021

Brian Horn, editor, Lawn & Landscape

This month we feature our annual Top 100 list, which is a ranking of the largest companies in the landscaping industry. But this column focuses on something smaller – specifically, the recent conversation over a minimum wage increase. We surveyed our readership about the topic, and here are some of the results from approximately 200 respondents.

  • To give you an idea of who was surveyed, the majority of our respondents (62%) have a gross annual revenue of below $1 million.
  • 45% said all hourly employees are paid more than $15.
  • When asked how much the federal minimum wage should be increased by, 23% said by more than $5 dollars. That was the most popular choice, followed 19% who were in favor of a $3 increase. Almost 18% said it should stay the same.
  • If the minimum wage is increased to $15, 72% said they would increase the prices for services, while 30% would have to reduce their total labor force. 38% expect they will be able to absorb the labor cost increases.
  • In comparison, if the minimum wage increased to $11, 70% said they’d be able to absorb the costs, while 42% said they would increase prices for services. Only 9% said they would have to reduce their labor force.
  • If increased to $15, 7% said they’d close their business, while 4% said they’d do so if increased to $11.
  • A potential minimum wage increase hasn’t necessarily spurred action. Only 19% said they reached out to elected officials in the House or Senate about the issue and only 7% reached out to a state or national association.

We also received well thought out comments on the matter, which included feedback on how some companies have been preparing, and others who raised their concerns about a possible raise. For those additional thoughts, see below:

SURVEY RESPONSES

A reasonable increase would have little impact to us in year 1 and 2 but as the increased pressure on the lower end of the wages makes its way up would have in impact over year 3-5. An unreasonable increase such as 15/hour would immediately impact wages all the way up to 20+/hour. We would have to look hard at overhead structure, get thinner in management and reduce capital spending. 

It will have an impact across all verticals within the economy thus impacting the Green Industry.  Let the free market operate.  There are many individuals (high school, retired) willing and able to work for a decent wage that does not penalize the business.  Full time staff are often paid the $15 or higher in most green industry companies to ensure we get the staff.  Benefits add to the compensation.  The more restrictions laid upon a business the greater the challenge to manage the costs.  Labor is a large cost bucket in the P&L.  It will push us to lessen the FTE count as a whole.

The minimum wage increase would affect our business projections with increased operating cost compared to what has been projected. The employees that are currently at $15+/hr. will I believe expect raises as well to compensate for the price increases of goods and services that they will see in their off hours and free time ventures. The value chain doesn't stop at the lowest entry level employee, all will want and expect to be given greater compensation as those higher up with more job responsibilities will then perceive they are working for less.

It will not directly affect our business because we currently pay our full time employees $15 or more.  I think it will indirectly affect us because other businesses will have to make an increase and that cost will get passed on to consumers, which will then increase costs of goods we purchase or services we pay for which may in turn cause us to increase our prices.

I might have to raise my prices, but I do that every year anyway. I might get more business because other LCOs could go out of business, as they don’t want to pay more than $8 per hour.

I have been paying $15 for the past 3 years.  A person with a family deserves a decent wage to meet today’s expenses.  Either pay a livable wage or pay welfare.

Current federal minimum wage is ridiculously low. Only one of the 4 states we operate in is at $7.25. The marketplace has already pushed our minimum to $13, $15 across the board --  would stretch us but the minimum has to increase.

Landscaping services are a luxury that some people may eliminate if their prices go up this could lower my customer base

We currently pay more than minimum for all positions. Wages have seen a spike well before this new proposed pay hike came up. We included surcharge language in all contracts to address any future new legislated or mandated. State and Federal wage changes several years ago.

Labor availability is already an issue in CT.  Raising the minimum wage on top of the enhanced unemployment just makes it more difficult to operate.  We are using more equipment and less people by necessity.  May drop our snow removal services due to the lack of labor.

We currently pay all of our full-time staff $15 or more. Part time staff/students are typically between $9-$13/hr. As long as we hit our sales budget for the year, we will be able to absorb a minimum wage increase without issues. We believe in paying people a living wage, especially full-time adult workers supporting a family. The only reason we did not say an increase of more than $5 is we believe minors, inexperienced workers, and seasonal workers in our area should be at $11-12/hr vs. $15. It's just hard to justify paying a 17-year-old that has never mow $15/hr, but that is a personal opinion more than a financial opinion.

It wouldn't in the near term as my employees are all above $15/hr. I rely heavily on the H-2B program that dictates our local starting wage which is higher than the proposed $15/hr. As a matter of fairness and to ensure a cohesive team I must pay local hires equal or more. This in turn drives up our supervisors pay and our overall pricing model.  in the long term, it may create more scarcity of entry level laborers as they will be willing to do easier jobs for similar pay.

Been preparing for this for two years. It is overdue. Wish they had raised a little bit every few years instead of waiting and doing a huge jump.