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KIMT News 3 – Minnesota’s recent minimum wage proposal has workers looking forward to an increase however, the business owners say industry will take a hit.
The Minnesota House voted and passed a proposal on May 3 that will look to increase minimum wage to $9.50 gradually by 2015, which would make it among the nation’s top rates.
One north Iowa woman is looking forward to the change and says this a great opportunity to discuss the struggles behind minimum wage.
“The people who make $12 per hour or they work Monday-Friday and they work eight to nine hours a day, they don’t see how hard it is for people like us to make it through. They just don’t see it until they’re actually there experiencing it,” said Ashly Dorantes of Rake.
Ashly works as a housekeeper for AmericInn in Blue Earth, Minnesota but lives in Rake. She drives forty minutes to work across borders daily and makes $7.25 per hour.
According to the United States Department of Labor, Minnesota is among only four states nationwide with minimum wage rates lower than the Federal rate, with wages of $6.50 cents.
On average, large employers do pay their employees that rate, but for smaller employers, it’s even less at an average rate of $5.25 per hour.
Something one expert says is cause for concern.
“This is not just a sliver of reality, particularly in greater Minnesota; it’s a lot of what the job market has come to,” said Kevin Ristau of the Jobs Now Coalition in St. Paul.
As the Education Director with the Jobs Now Coalition, Kevin helps to educate and help promote generating jobs that pay a family supporting wage.
Their online family and budget calculator shows the stats on how much a family must earn to meet basic needs, and in southern Minnesota, the stats are not promising.
“Even at a low-cost area like southern Minnesota, you would need about exactly twice what the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is. Just to meet basic needs,” said Ristau.
Though the increase will help employees, others question how business will be impacted.
“You bring in a person at $7.25 an hour the minimum wage and all of a sudden, this person doesn’t train well, well you can find someone else to train. But if I’ve got to bring this person in a $9 or $10 an hour and train them, that’s a lot of money. Training is the most expensive part of the job,” said David Mord.
As General Manager of Green Mill in Albert Lea, David Mord knows what first hand how the increase will affect costs and according to him this increase will cost customers.
“It’s a lot more difficult for us to even accept a raise. Believe me I’m all for giving the person whatever they’re worth. I don’t have a problem with that. But it’s hard to find that person and train that person to bring them up to that level,” said Mord.
“Just because we go year after year without a minimum wage increase, does not follow that it’s not important. It’s more important than ever before just because so many jobs are low paying jobs,” said Ristau.