MINNEAPOLIS -- It may seem a world away from the Capitol in St. Paul, but workers at restaurants in Dinkytown will weigh in on a proposed minimum wage hike as quickly as they serve up a cup of coffee.
"In terms of inflation-adjusted dollars, the minimum wage has been stagnating over the past couple decades," said Sean Harrison, a long-time server at Cafe 421.
Minnesota law currently dictates a $6.15 minimum per hour, well below the $7.25 per hour federal minimum. The Minnesota House and Senate are considering two different proposals to raise the state's minimum wage.
Harrison said he supports an increase, based on fairness and simple economics.
"I think it's also a pragmatic economics issue. When people have money to spend, it helps the economy overall," he said.
Rex Vogen, who works at Espresso Royale agrees.
"I think in the end it's about being able to take care of yourself. Being able to take care of your family," Vogen said.
But not everyone welcomes the wage hike, including some who own small businesses.
"We have concerns on a number of levels," said Rick Dehn of Dehn Oil, a fourth-generation family business that owns two gas stations and a gasoline and diesel fuel wholesale company.
Dehn said the company has always valued their employees, but a higher base pay will prompt some difficult questions.
"The pie is only so big, so if you cut a bigger piece of it and give it to that starting-out employee, who may only be around for 30 or 60 days, that's going to take away from that longer-term, more loyal, committed, higher-performing employee," Dehn said.
"This is a penny business," he said. "It could potentially result in higher gas prices, higher prices of milk and bread and goods that we sell inside the store."
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