Several major national publications have featured articles in recent weeks addressing the increase in Seattle’s minimum wage. The concern seems to be how the increase to an eventual $15 an hour may affect the local economy. Will small businesses be able to afford this change? Will it contribute to a higher unemployment rate?

Bypassing all of the controversy and arguments concerning the accuracy of recent studies conducted at the University of Washington and at other institutions, some basic facts are being overlooked.

The bottom line: If employers can’t afford to pay their employees enough to meet the cost of living in Seattle, then maybe their business plans are simply not sustainable in this current economy. Given the skyrocketing rents and increasing prices for goods and services, even $15 an hour is not necessarily a livable wage in this area.

It’s obvious that restaurants and other businesses are raising their prices to offset any increase in wages for their employees. No one should be surprised because that response is a basic principle of economics and capitalism. In fact, the usual Darwinian precept of “Survival of the Fittest” has always been the philosophy of U.S. investors and business owners.

What should surprise people is that when it comes to taking care of the needs of employees, this idea often seems to be thrown out the window in favor of melodramatic predictions about the negative effects of increases in wages and benefits. 

These complaints are often hypocritical when you consider that most businesses have no problem raising prices to offset other typical increases in the cost of doing business, including increased rents, high interest rates, taxes, inflation or renovation expenses. These are the actual increases in expenses, which sometimes cause businesses to relocate or go bankrupt, not increases in wages for employees.

If a company or corporation can’t afford to pay their employees a decent livable wage, then they are simply not a viable operation and should probably fold up. In a booming metropolitan area like Seattle, with a major increase in investments, employment opportunities and population, there is no reasonable argument for why businesses can’t increase profits or wages. For the most part, if a business can’t make it here, they won’t be able to make it anywhere.

As an example, try to set up a business in a small town in rural Washington, where unemployment is high and jobs are almost non-existent. If the local population has no disposable income, that company is bound to fail. The sob stories being told by some business owners in Seattle just doesn’t reflect reality. I realize that this is a generalization and that in a limited number of specific cases other influences may be at work in decreasing profitability, but for the most part, businesses are booming and there is a steady increase in the number of customers and money flowing into this city.

The simple reality is that Seattle continues to be a boomtown in spite of any increases in the local minimum wage. So please don’t panic, because business is good and opportunities to make money are plentiful. If this bothers business owners and investors, perhaps they can relocate to Detroit where wages are low, unemployment is high and bankruptcies are on the increase.

I suspect that few business owners will see this as a viable option and relocate to the Midwest rust belt.