Would minimum wage hike help Minn. families or hurt business?

7:21 AM, Feb 14, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- In the state of Minnesota, according to the Children's Defense Fund, 194,000 children are living in poverty.

And it's very possible that both of their parents are working full-time.

"With two parents working full-time, earning minimum wage right now you are at about $30,000 a year," CDF Legislative Affairs Director Alex Fitzsimmons said Wednesday night.

To reach what Fitzsimmons says is just a livable wage for a family of four, those parents would have to make a combined $46,000 a year.

That is the reason lawmakers in Minnesota are acting and reacting to the President's call for action when it comes to the minimum wage.

"Let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on earth no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour," President Obama told the nation Tuesday night in his State of the Union address.

But even then it falls below the line.

With two parents working full time at $9.50 an hour, which is what is being proposed by DFL lawmakers in St. Paul, that only adds up to $39,520 a year.

"The majority of families are working. They are working hard and many are working more than one job, and it's still not enough to make ends meet," Fitzsimmons said.

There is opposition to raising the Minnesota minimum wage to 9.50 an hour.

"I would guess that if it goes to $9.50 the unintended consequence would be fewer first-time jobs and that is a bad result," Minnesota Chamber of Commerce President David Olson said.

Olson says mandating a wage would scare off business, and in turn hurt the state in the long run.

He says the wage isn't meant for a lifelong worker anyway.

"I don't think it's intended to be a livable wage. I think it's intended to be again for the young person, the unskilled person to get that first job, learning those things, and then move up," Olson said.

Minnesota currently ranks in the bottom three of all 50 states when it comes to the rate of the minimum wage. Each of the neighboring states, Wisconsin, Iowa, North and South Dakota have their state minimum wage set at $7.25. Minnesota's is $6.15 an hour.

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