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Will the federal minimum wage be raised to $15?

Published: Feb. 9, 2021 at 7:36 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2021 at 7:39 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Some say it could help the economy, others say it would make it worse. The debate over raising the minimum wage is nothing new. But, President Joe Biden is now proposing raising the federal minimum wage to $15.

Paula Katz owns Security Sporting Goods in Alexandria and is closely watching the debate in Washington, D.C.

“As a small business this would truly affect my business, not necessarily in a positive way,” said Katz. “As a small business owner, $15 an hour is pretty steep. Most of my employees are part-time students, mostly high school or college students and in order to pay them $15 an hour I would probably have to cut their hours.”

President Biden wants to more than double the federal minimum from $7.25 an hour. It’s a move he said would help families struggling during the pandemic. It’s part of his $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan. But does it belong in the budget proposal? That will be a big hurdle for it to make it through Congress.

“But it’s not the sort of direct connection I think would qualify for it to be considered,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-LA, in a conference call with Louisiana reporters. “So I think it’s process-oriented in the answer, but that’s the issue. I’m not sure it gets through, but I can’t promise either way.”

Recently, the Congressional Budget Office reported a $15 minimum wage would reduce poverty and increase earnings for low-wage workers but would add to the deficit and cut overall unemployment.

“Small employers or restaurants for example, if they would have to start raising the wages of their staff, they would just close their doors,” said Sen. Cassidy. “So instead of having a job with a higher minimum wage, someone would not have any job whatsoever. That’s really not what we are shooting for.”

For Paula, she said it shouldn’t be a one size fits all approach.

“Small businesses in Central Louisiana have already been affected by the coronavirus in a negative way,” said Katz. “I think this would highly affect small businesses. It may not impact big-box businesses or somewhere where automation is possible. But for small businesses in Central Louisiana, I think this would negatively affect us.”

The CBO says the policy would lift 900,000 people out of poverty and raise income for 17 million people., but would also cut 1.4 million jobs and increase the deficit by $54 billion.

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