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Pro: Minimum wage spike could help families

By BY ALLISON MILES - AMILES@VICAD.COM
Feb. 24, 2013 at 11:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 23, 2013 at 8:24 p.m.


The proposal

During his Feb. 12 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama proposed increasing federal minimum wage to $9 per hour by the end of 2015. The increase would come incrementally, according to a White House news release.

Several years back - not too long ago - the business world was a different place, said Thomas Villarreal, who retired several years ago from his work with the city of Victoria.

People put in a hard day's work just as they do now, he said, but when the cost of living rose, so did the pay.

"Companies don't do that anymore," the Victoria native said. "Gas is going up, and everything else costs more. It can be hard."

Villarreal, 61, said he favors President Barack Obama's proposition to raise federal minimum wage to $9 an hour to help people meet those rising costs.

Others say upping the wage could bring overall economic benefits.

"How raising the federal minimum wage would help working families and give the economy a boost," a study released in August by the Economic Policy Institute, indicated an increase would mean more money for millions of workers and could spur job growth.

A jump to $9.80 per hour could mean 100,000 new jobs through a three-year period, according to an institute news release, and bring an additional $25 billion in economic activity. Those families receiving the income boost are most likely to spend the extra money immediately on basic needs or services they could not previously afford.

"With the national unemployment rate not budging below 8 percent, now is the perfect time to raise the minimum wage," institute researcher Douglas Hall said in the release.

Carole Kolle, center director for Workforce Solutions of the Golden Crescent, said it's important to look at both sides of the issue.

An increase could affect smaller employers by taking away from their bottom line, she said, but would also benefit minimum wage workers trying to make ends meet.

"We've looked at the minimum wage going up periodically for a number of years now," she said. "Right now, it's in discussion, and I'm sure everyone will look at it in more than one way."

As for Villarreal, he said he would like to see the government take it a step further and increase the amount retirees receive.

"Costs are going up for us, too," he said. "With all the years we worked to better the world, we deserve a raise."

CON: Increasing minimum wage could lower workers' drive

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