Hourly minimum wage will not increase - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Hourly minimum wage will not increase

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June 21, 2006

Albany -- A proposal to raise the minimum wage by two dollars, ten cents has failed in the U.S. Senate. It would have been the increase in nine years. And while it's disappointing to people who earn minimum wage, it's good news for people who pay it.

The vote on Capital Hill to increase minimum wage was just short of passing. If only eight more senators said yes, Americans only making $5.15 an hour would make $7.25 by 2009.

Some here in Albany working for a lower wage say it's more money they need just to get by.

Seventeen year-old Casey Smith has a summer job to save money for college this fall. It's a hefty price that she's working hard to pay for.

"It's very expensive even though some people may get scholarships you may get extra money for gas, food, little things that adds up," said college-bound worker Casey Smith.

They are expenses that Smith could handle much easier if the hourly minimum wage were to increase.

People working for minimum wage say a pay increase would help a lot with today's cost of living, but small business owners say they depend on these lower paid employees to help meet budget.

Wagner's Barbeque owner Rick Wagner says he wouldn't be able to hire new employees at the proposed $7.25 an hour without increasing costs to customers. He says the new wage would hinder business.

"It would be a snowball effect as far as the higher paid employees losing what they deserve to offset the minimum wage increase," said Rick Wagner.

It goes along with the philosphy of local economist Amit Singh. He says if employers can't afford to hire, it adds to the area's unemployment.

"Some people may not get the job because 7.25, it will hurt the business. Some businesses will not be able to hire, some businesses not all. They may pay you six dollars, maybe 5.50. $7.25 may be too high for some business," said economist Amit Singh.

Casey Smith will work and save until school starts in the fall.

"There are many people, students, other people who are in situations, they need extra money. If they are willing to work for the extra money they should get it," said Smith.

Smith is thankful for her opportunities, but thinks a change should be made so people will have enough to support themselves.

According to democratic Senators backing the bill, a person working full time for the current minimum wage is well below the poverty line for a family of three. A majority of the Senate did move to increase the hourly minimum wage, but didn't get the 60 votes needed to get this increase passed.

Republican Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia says that increasing the minimum wage will cost others their jobs.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=WageIncrease

 

More now on how the federally mandated minimum wage came to be:

*The minimum wage started in 1938 at the rate of a quarter an hour, to prevent workers from being mistreated as the country became more industrialized.

*A year after it was started, government leaders bumped it up a nickel to 30 cents.

*The minimum wage was set to its current level of $5.15 in September of 1997.

*12 states have mandated wages higher than the federal minimum.

*The nearest to us, Florida, which has its rate set at $6.40 an hour.