Minimum wage increase sparks economic debate

Employees worried about inflation

Minimum wage increase debate

BRISTOL, Va. - President Obama's minimum wage plans has sparked an economic debate. Some employees who are making the bare basic say the proposal could hurt more than it helps.

Mandy Feathers has been working at George & Sid's beer store for about two years making $7.25 an hour. She estimates she brings home about $600 per month. "Just getting to and from work is hard," she said. "Just to keep gas in your car."

Feather said making ends meeting on minimum wage can be a challenge. "It's hard some times. The price of gas and groceries keeps going up. It's a struggle at times."

However, Feathers isn't thrilled about President Obama's proposal presented during his State of the Union address Tuesday night to increase the minimum wage to $9 per hour. "I think it could be good, but I'm also afraid it will effect the inflation. Therefore, it won't help," Feather said.

People around Bristol seem to agree. "Even though you're making more money, in the long run, everything will go up, so you'll be lucky to still break even," said Tamera Rogers.

Obama said increasing the minimum wage and tying future increases to inflation will raise the incomes of millions living in poverty and spur job growth.

"I think it's going to hurt the lower income once they raise the minimum wage, they'll raise all the prices," said John Weaver, a concerned citizen.

Many believe increasing the cash could be counteractive. "It's just such a big increase, I'm scared it will raise everything at once and won't be effective," said Rogers.

Business groups are also not sure. They said that boosting the federal rate would discourage employers from hiring new workers, hurting the very people Obama aims to help. "I think it may force some to cut employees or cut hours," said Feathers.

In 2007, the minimum wage was $5.85. It increased to $6.55 in 2008 and rose to $7.25 in 2009.

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