Minimum wage increases, Concordia’s budget does not

Initial fears that student worker’s hours could have been reduced largely did not pan out

min wage
Image by Maddie Malat.

While Concordia work-study wages increased last August with the state’s minimum wage increase to $8 an hour for large employers – those making more than $500,000 in annual revenues – Concordia’s budget did not.

Initial concerns arose on campus that work-study departments might have to cut back on students’ hours or reduce the number of new hires as a result of the wage increase, said Peggy Torrance, director for Human Resources and Paul Dosch, associate director of Dining Services and a member of the Student Employment Committee. Not only might students’ hours be reduced, but work-study departments might be unable to meet their needs due to the decrease in labor.

These concerns generally didn’t pan out, Torrance explained. She said while there have been less positions offered, there are still numerous openings available to students. Openings for dining services, Concordia Language Villages and Phonathon, among other work-study departments, are currently posted on CareerLink, a page on the Concordia website devoted to job postings.

Dosch and Audra Freeman, the office manager for Facilities Management and also a member of the SEC, both said their departments – Dining Services and Facilities Management – were relatively unaffected by the wage increase. Both dining services and facilities are two of the largest work-study departments and both have historically paid higher wages than other departments.

Other work-study departments have not fared so well. The Athletics department has had to reduce the number of hours available for student managers, according to Dave Klug, who is in charge of the department’s work-study.

The library has also reduced the number of work-study hours available to the students, said Leah McCracken-Anderson, the library’s circulation interlibrary loan manager and a member of the SEC. However, this change was also due to decreased student enrollment and consequent inactivity in the library.

The wage increase also eliminated a long-standing program in which students who worked 60 hours or more a semester were eligible for a 10 cent increase each subsequent semester, including during summer semesters. Because of the wage increase this past August, and the subsequent increases to $9 on Aug. 1, 2015 and $9.50 on Aug. 1, 2016, the SEC recommended to the President’s Cabinet that the program be eliminated.

“It was a budget issue,” Dosch said.

Being employed while being a student offers both rewards and obstacles, depending on various factors, including a student’s level of commitment.

Dosch believes every student should be able to devote four or five hours a week to a job.

“It’s an unfortunate mistake for students on campus that aren’t working at all,” he said.

Many students choose to seek employment off-campus. Freeman explained that because of the area’s low unemployment rate, work-study departments have to be very competitive with other employers across the city.

Unemployment rate in the Fargo, North Dakota-Minnesota Metropolitan Statistical Area was 2.2 percent in Nov. 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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