Minimum-wage increase would have impact on campus student workers
President Barack Obama’s push for a $9 federal minimum wage would have potentially drastic effects on Central Michigan University campus student workers.
At CMU, there are 3,845 active student employees, and approximately 40 percent are making $7.40 an hour, said Jon Goodwin, manager of Student Employment Services. Michigan’s minimum wage is $7.40 per hour, above the federal $7.25.
“Right now, the average a student earns is $7.70 an hour,” Goodwin said. “Assuming work-study packages stay the same, (students) would work off those awards quicker.
Goodwin said student employees who have work study awards would be able to earn those awards by working fewer hours if minimum wage increased the additional $1.60. Goodwin also addressed what would happen if their work study allocation stayed the same for the departments.
“The departments get an allocation for work-study, which they are not supposed to go over,” Goodwin said. “They would have fewer hours to offer student employees because of the increase. In order to tackle their workloads, (students) would have fewer hours from work-study students assuming the allocation remained the same.”
CMU receives $904,000 in allocation annually from the government, with reduction in the number of student employees in previous changes to minimum wage.
Lori Hella, associate vice president of Human Resources, said it is only the temporary staff at the university who are paid minimum wage for staff.
“We probably hire over 500 temporaries a year,” Hella said. “There would be 48 who would be impacted if the increase were to go to $9.”
The temporary staff can be found in office support positions and are only hired for a set period of time.
David Burdette, vice president for finance and administrative services, said the last time the minimum wage was raised, the allocation was increased for the Charles V. Park Library, Facilities Management and the Student Activity Center because they had the most student workers.
Because of this, individual departments had to eat the difference or decrease their hours.
“This campus couldn’t run without our student employees,” Burdette said. “We depend on our student employees just like we depend on our faculty and staff.”
Barrie Wilkes, associate vice president for financial services, said some of those individual departments would need to increase the costs that they pass along.
“If you look at an area such as residence life, it has a significant number of students,” Wilkes said. “It’s the same thing for employers off campus where they can work fewer hours or they can increase the costs of goods that they sell.”
The total number of W-2s CMU issues for students and faculty has always been 10,000, with the bulk of that number stemming from student employees, Wilkes said.
“You learn to take a wait and see attitude on these things,” Wilkes said. “Normally when they start proposing minimum wage increases it takes a long time.”
President Barack Obama has made increasing the federal minimum wage one of his top priorities in his second term.
Obama first proposed raising the federal minimum wage on Feb. 12 to $9, up from $7.40, in the State of the Union address.
“Here’s an idea that Gov. (Mitt) Romney and I actually agreed on last year: Let’s tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on,” Obama said.
Last week, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, proposed raising the minimum wage to $10.10.
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