Feedback: Should Minimum Wage Be Increased?

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President Barack Obama wants an increase in the minimum hourly wage from the current $7.25 to $9 by the end of 2015.

Obama also proposes the minimum wage be required to keep pace with inflation.

The current rate took effect in 2009.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have higher minimum wage rates than the federal requirement.

Washington state's is highest at $9.19.

The proposal, which Obama made during his State of the Union address Tuesday, is drawing opposition from business groups and congressional Republicans who say higher rates increase costs and reduce employment.

Anthony Doldo, owner of The General Store on Bradley Street in Watertown, is against it.

"It's tough being a small business and the hikes are just going to put more pressure on us to look at other avenues of where we can cut and we're running out of options," said Doldo.

The White House says the new wage would raise pay for more than 15 million workers and indirectly help millions more.

Obama wants the rate to increase in stages over three years.

Local workers, who earn minimum wage, support the proposal.

"I think it would be helpful for everyone. It would be great to have more money in our pockets," said Maegen Granahan, a minimum wage earner.

"Right now, with getting over the recession - not that far back - it's honestly needed," said William Cousino, who earns minimum wage.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo called for a minimum wage increase in his budget proposal.

Closed-door negotiations on the issue are under way in the Senate and Assembly.

A new report from the influential Independent Democratic Conference says hiking the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour from $7.25 would fuel $600 million in additional spending in the state.

The report argues that raising the minimum wage will provide New York's economy with a broad boost, affecting more than 350,000 New Yorkers, most of them women and minorities.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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