President Obama Calls For Raise in Minimum Wage - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

President Obama Calls For Raise in Minimum Wage

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During the State of the Union Address, President Obama said he wants to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 per hour.

Nevada's minimum wage is $8.25 an hour and it is one of 18 states plus the District of Columbia that already has a higher minimum wage than the national rate.

The President says a raise in minimum wage would put more money in the pockets of 15 million Americans.

"Let's declare, that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty," President Obama said. "And raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour."

That pay raise would increase a full-time worker's annual pay by $3,500 to about $18,000 per year.

That is still below the poverty line.

"Let's tie the minimum wage to the cost of living so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on," President Obama said.

At $9 an hour, the inflation-adjusted value would catch up to what it was in 1981, according to the National Employment Law Project.

Luther Mack owns the two Popeye's restaurants in Reno and Sparks.

He says there could be side effects of higher wages.

"There's other areas that you've got to take a look at, that affects the employer, and sometimes minimize the amount of people you employ." Mack said. "So, maybe that creates more unemployment, too."

Many Popeye's employees make minimum wage.

He says when combined with the Affordable Healthcare Act, raising minimum wage could be a double whammy for small businesses.

"Big corporations probably can handle it but a smaller employer is going to have a hard time," Mack said.

Bill Dupree used to own One Stop Burger Shop, in Reno.

"When I started up my shop, I could barely afford to keep anybody and if you have to pay more because it's the law, then you just won't hire anyone," Dupree said.

That's what one economist told us, too.

He said raising the minimum wage won't create jobs.

But others we talked to said they don't think it would hurt or help the economy.

"One side will tell you that it's going to hurt the teenagers," Larry Grant said. "It will eliminate jobs for them. The other side, people need a living wage."

If passed, the President says higher wages could mean more customers for businesses and less financial help from the government.

Written by Paul Nelson
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