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State’s minimum wage hike takes effect starting Friday

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People earning a minimum wage are people we depend on to care for our children and our elderly and disabled family members, yet they do not make enough money to care for their own families. Some are working two to three jobs to try to provide for their children’s basic needs.

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Because someone working 40 hours a week should not live in poverty, Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL legislators have increased the minimum wage, said DFL Chairman Ken Martin.

 The first phase of the three-phase increase takes effect Friday, Aug. 1, marking the first wage increase in 10 years.

The Aug. 1 increase brings the wage from $6.15 an hour (the fourth-lowest in the U.S.) to $8 an hour. Further increases in 2015 and 2016 will boost the wage to $9.50 an hour for large employers. (By 2016, small businesses with $500,000 in gross sales, will raise their minimum wage to $7.75 an hour.)

Beginning in 2018, all wages will go up annually on Jan. 1 by inflation, unless the commissioner of the State Department of Labor and Industry decides the economy cannot support an increase.

More than 350,000 Minnesotans will be impacted by this wage increase, and more than half are adult women.

While some may have the misconception that minimum wage earners are teenagers with part-time jobs, the fact of the matter is that 274,000 of the 350,000 are working adults, age 20 and older. A large majority of those workers, 202,000, are women, Martin said.

With so many adults earning minimum wage, the increase will also provide economic security for about 137,000 children of low-paid workers.

Studies have shown that children from families with sufficient financial resources are far more likely than children from economically disadvantaged families to start kindergarten ready to succeed and to flourish in school and later in life.

Communities will also benefit from the increase in the minimum wage. When the $9.50 an hour wage goes into effect, it is estimated it will provide a $472 million boost in consumer spending.

When low-wage workers have more money to spend, it is anticipated they will purchase more consumer goods for their families.

The increase they receive will go right back into our economy. Higher wages have also shown to provide businesses with lower turnover, higher productivity and better customer service.

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