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Pi Pizzeria Owner Does the Math: Raising Minimum Wage Solves Equation for Low Income Workers and Our Economy

Laura Wilson

Pi Pizzeria co-founder Chris Sommers made the case for raising the federal minimum wage in an editorial published by the Cincinnati Enquirer on January 2, 2015.  As Sommers noted:

“Business owners don’t create more jobs when they have more money in their own pockets thanks to low wages.  We create more jobs when other people have more money to spend at our businesses.

More working Americans walking around with money to spend is what fuels the economy and creates more consumer demand.”

Realizing that many of their employees could not afford to buy the pizza that they worked so hard to make for Pi Pizzeria guests, Sommers and his business partner raised the minimum wage in their restaurants to $10.10, all without raising prices.  While Sommers acknowledges that “a sense of right and wrong may have sparked the decision” to consider raising his employees’ salaries, it was the math that proved the point- “old fashioned number crunching that showed we can and should do what Congress should have already done.”

As Sommers observed, increased payroll costs associated with an increased minimum wage are offset by reduced employee turnover rates, increased productivity, and greater customer satisfaction- all key to the success of small businesses and the American economy.  “Employees who can make ends meet stay longer and are less stressed and more productive.   . . . It’s a win-win when employees can concentrate on serving customers, without worrying about how they are going to make rent or put food on their own table.” Pi Pizzeria is now experiencing increased sales, below budget labor costs, and is expanding into new markets, including Cincinnati, all after raising minimum wage to $10.10.

As Sommers suggests, maybe it’s time Congress solves the same equation by raising the federal minimum wage for the good of the whole economy.

Read more in Sommer’s Op-Ed.

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