BILLINGS — Twenty-seven states including Montana raised their minimum wage this Monday but most businesses, including many here in Billings, have always paid their employees more than minimum wage.
If anyone knows a thing or two about staff retention, it’s Bill Mitchell, owner of Mitchell Golf.
“The people I have mostly been working here a long time, some people up to 25 plus years,” said Mitchell on Monday.
He said there’s no secret formula to keeping employees but believes it starts with paying more than minimum wage, which was just raised 75 cents to $9.95 an hour.
“Our goal is to keep people here and I want to pay them maybe a little more than they might make doing the same job elsewhere,” Mitchell said.
It appears Mitchell isn’t the only one who has that figured out. According to the Montana Department of Labor, only 4.2% of the state’s workforce was making minimum wage in 2022.
“I believe 15 really should be the minimum wage. We found that people who make less than that almost need a second job to survive and especially with inflation right now,” said the business developer for Express Employment Professionals in Billings, Mark Hardin.
None of the companies that work with Express Employment Professionals offer minimum wage.
“We have a couple in the 14 range but for the majority, our clients are 16 to 17,” said Hardin.
That even includes fast food restaurants as most are now offering higher wages to try and combat the nationwide worker shortage.
Hardin knows firsthand that it works. He said companies offering lower wages have a harder time finding employees.
“If the wages came up, I think a lot of places would be a little bit more successful in finding the right applicants,” Hardin said.
That’s something Mitchell figured out long ago, but it’s an approach especially true now as inflation takes its toll on both businesses and customers alike.
“It’s been interesting because of inflation, a lot of our lower-priced entry items have gone up significantly in price,” said Mitchell.