Study busts myths about who benefits from $15 minimum wage

Ont. boomers as likely to get a raise as teens; retail, food & accommodation workers more likely to work in big box stores than in small businesses
July 13, 2017

OTTAWA—Ontario’s commitment to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour has more to do with raising earnings for the province’s most marginalized than the move’s potential impacts on teenaged workers or small mom-and-pop shops. 

The vast majority of workers who will benefit from a higher minimum wage are over the age of 20 and they work for big companies (those with 500 or more employees), says a new study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). The study comes as the Ontario government consults the public about its decision to raise the minimum wage to $15 by January 2019.

“Nearly all teenagers will see a raise, but they represent a small proportion of the overall group of low-wage workers who would benefit,” says CCPA Senior Economist David Macdonald.  “In fact, 15 per cent of workers who are getting a raise are over 55, which means baby boomers are about as likely as teenagers to get a raise from a $15 minimum wage.”

Three industries dominate low-wage work: retail, accommodations and food services, and business, building and other support services. They represent 23 per cent of Ontario workers but 57 per cent will benefit from a $15 minimum wage:

  • 55 per cent of retail workers and 71 per cent of accommodation and food workers would see a raise from a $15 minimum wage.
  • Big companies prevail in the retail and food and accommodation industries. Among those employees who will get a boost in wages in these two industries, 59 per cent work for a company with more than 500 employees.
  • Only 17 per cent of those who will get a raise in those two industries work for a small business with less than 20 employees.

“In other words, someone getting a raise in retail, food, or accommodation jobs is three-and-a-half times more likely to work for a big box store than for a mom-and-pop shop,” says Macdonald. “Overall, a broad and diverse swath of workers will benefit from a $15 minimum wage including contract, seasonal, and casual workers, part-time workers, women, and immigrants.” 

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Ontario Needs A Raise: Who Benefits From a $15 Minimum Wage is available for download on CCPA's website:www.policyalternatives.ca.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Alyssa O’Dell, Media and Public Relations Officer at alyssa@policyalternatives.ca, 613-563-1341 x307 or cell 343-998-7575.

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