Vail Daily letter: Market sorts it out
July 29, 2015
I read Arn Menconi's commentary on the minimum wage and, while I understand why raising the minimum wage substantially would appeal to some, it might be better to understand the longer terms effect of such a move. According to Yahoo Finance, Vail Resorts currently has 4,700 employees. Mr Menconi uses the figure 7,500 in his article, so it might be reasonable to assume that Vail Resorts adds about 3,000 employees (ticket sellers, lift line operators and checkers, etc.) when the ski season begins. I agree with Mr. Menconi's assertion that they must offer competitive wages to attract those employees, which they seem to do pretty well each year. The market and the leaders of Vail Resorts and other area businesses decide for themselves what they need to pay in order to attract the talent they require. I note the Wal-Mart in Avon is advertising jobs at $12 per hour and a premium for the night shift. If you have the skills, talent and a strong resume you can command more dollars in the marketplace. If you have a nebulous degree in something like leisure studies, well, best of luck. Given the single-day lift ticket is currently $159, think about what impact raising the wages of a large number of seasonal employees by 50 percent will have initially on the ticket price and, later, on the downturn as potential customers disappear. Hint: Jobs begin to disappear.
So, while the idea has some populist appeal, we need to carefully weigh the unintended consequences as Seattle is currently learning. Some businesses are closing, others are adding a tax to restaurant bills and others are trimming staff. We don't need a social justice activist to supplant the market forces. Left alone, the market sorts these things out. By the way, how many people does Mr Menconi employ? Easy to criticize Vail Resorts or Wal-Mart and offer solutions that don't come out of your pocket.
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