“Let’s declare that on the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty,” said President Obama Tuesday night at the State of the Union address.
President Obama proposed raising the national minimum-wage to $9 an hour, and increasing it annually to keep up with inflation.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have minimum-wages set above the current rate. In Washington state, workers already earn at least $9.19 an hour.
“Let’s tie minimum-wage to the cost of living so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on,” said the President.
Advocates say Obama’s proposal will pump money into local economies because workers will have more money to spend.
But the plan quickly came under fire from opponents across the country who say, raising the minimum wage actually kills jobs.
“It’s not going to help El Paso, it’s not going to help the rest of the United States. The national unemployment rate is right around 8% and the local unemployment rate is just as high. The time to raise the price of labor is not when unemployment is high, it’s when unemployment is low,” said Dr. Tom Fullerton, Professor of Economics at UTEP.
But some local businesses in El Pasoare actually in favor of the increase and say it would build a stronger work force.
“I think we’ll benefit from it because employees at the end of the day will go home with more money and they’ll feel a little bit more confident. And confidence carries on that the employee will actually do better in the restaurant”
Vijay Vaswani owns two Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt shops in El Paso, and employs more than 30 people. When it comes to the price of labor, Vijay agrees with the President.
“We start everybody at well over minimum wage here at Menchie’s so I’m actually in favor of something like this,” said Vaswani.
President Obama’s plan would also increase the minimum wage for tipped workers, something Joel Rahman thinks is much needed.
“Especially in the restaurant industry too, minimum-wage for a serve isn’t $7.25, it’s actually $2-$2:15 area,” said Rahman.
Today, the President continued his minimum-wage campaign and spoke to workers and guests at a plant in Arden, North Carolina.
States that already have a minimum-wage of $9 an hour or more would not be affected by Obama's plan.