Minimum Wage Could Have Maximum Impact on Landscape Company Owners

Maryland just raised its minimum wage to $10.10/hour. Will other states do the same, and what impact could it have on company owners in the landscaping industry?

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley recently signed legislation raising Maryland’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10/hour by 2017. Maryland joins Minnesota, Delaware, West Virginia and Hawaii as states that have recently raised their minimum wage. In total, 22 states plus the District of Columbia now have a minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour.

As President Obama and others continue to press for an increase in the federal minimum wage—and states like Maryland move to take their own action in the meantime—company owners in the landscaping industry must take note. While most landscape companies and equipment dealerships are already paying employees an hourly wage in excess of $10/hour, an increase in the minimum wage can have a ripple effect.

Various types of employees already earning $10 or $11/hour would go back to the bottom of the totem pole, so to speak. This can have a dramatic effect on employee morale and productivity, along with an employer’s ability to recruit and retain employees. Thus, a 39% increase in the minimum wage could ultimately compel landscape contractors and equipment dealers to also raise the wages of their employees—particularly those with experience and tenure. It would be wise to start planning now, say, for what a 20% increase in your field labor costs might do to your overall budget and pricing model.

What states are paying landscaping workers

According to 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average national wage for a landscaping worker is $12.65/hour. The top workers are making $14.58 to $18.38/hour while the guys on the low end are making $8.44 to $9.56.

The top-average-wage states are:

  • Massachusetts — $16.11
  • Connecticut — $15.28
  • Alaska — $14.91
  • Hawaii — $14.65

NOTE: The District of Columbia is actually tops with an average wage of $17/hour.

The lowest-average-wage states are:

  • Mississippi — $10.68
  • Arkansas — $10.72
  • Louisiana — $10.73
  • Alabama — $10.83
  • South Carolina — $10.86
  • West Virginia — $10.86

Note that West Virginia, one of the lowest-average-wage states, is also among those that recently increased its minimum wage. However, West Virginia’s rate will still be short of the $10.10 being proposed at the federal level. West Virginia will raise its minimum wage to $8/hour in 2015 and $8.75 in 2016.

Other states that have also recently raised their minimum wage are already paying landscaping workers better than the national average of $12.65/hour:

  • Minnesota — $13.21
  • Maryland — $13.17

The exception is Delaware, which sees landscaping workers earning an average of $12.11 hour. Delaware’s minimum wage will climb to $8.25/hour in 2015. It’s jumping to $7.75 on June 1 of this year.