By John Michaelson
ST. PAUL, Minn. (Aug. 28, 2013) — After suffering an end-of-session setback this spring, supporters of raising Minnesota’s minimum wage say they will make another push next year.
State Rep. Ryan Winkler, D-Golden Valley, said the goal is to increase the lowest pay to $9.50 an hour by 2015. If that happens, he said, “about 360,000 Minnesota workers would get a raise, which they need, because wages have been falling and it’s been tougher and tougher to work and get by.”
Bills to increase the minimum wage were passed in both the Minnesota House and Senate this past session, but the legislation died when a conference committee couldn’t agree on how much the increase should be. Those opposed to raising it say a higher minimum wage will have a negative overall impact on jobs and the economy.
The claim that a wage hike for the poorest workers will be a detriment to the economy has been around since the 1930s, but Winkler said the opposite is true.
“The fact is that history and research shows that it doesn’t happen that way,” he said. “The big reason is because if low-wage workers get an extra dollar in their pocket, they spend it right away and their extra earnings circulate through the economy much faster. We actually help the economy by increasing demand for goods and services that businesses are selling.”
In addition to helping workers cover more of the basics, raising the minimum wage would also have a huge impact on their children, said Peggy Flanagan, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund in Minnesota.
“We know that 137,000 children would benefit from increased parental income,” she said. “Of course, children who come from families with sufficient income have better outcomes with regards to their success and ability to flourish in school and later in life.”
Minnesota has one of the lowest minimum wages in the nation at $6.15 an hour, although most workers fall under the federal hourly minimum of $7.25.
More information is online at cdf-mn.org.