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September 01, 2014 06:09 PM

South Dakotans Talk Possible Minimum Wage Increase

Sioux Falls, SD

Labor Day marks the unofficial kick-off to campaign season for the November election.

South Dakota voters will decide on a governor and a U.S. senator this November, as well as an increase to the minimum wage. Minimum wage in the state has been at $7.25 per hour since 2009.  The ballot measure, if passed, would put that at $8.50. The hike would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015. 

"We work for our money for the money we get and I think it should be raised, because we do work," Mandy Greger said.

Greger, a restaurant cook, said she plans on voting for the increase.  She said it is hard for people to make ends meet.  Though she is going back to school to earn a business administration degree. hoping it will lead to a job that pays more. She said doing that on what she makes is challenging.

"I really feel defeated a lot. I just feel like, 'How am I going to do it? How am I really going to do it when I have three children and I am a single mother?'" Greger said.

She believes a little more money may make it easier for South Dakotans to pay for more education.

Not everyone agrees. Opponents worry that raising the minimum wage will negatively impact small businesses and the economy.

"I don't think it's a good idea," Neil Christopherson said.

Christopherson argues raising the minimum wage would create what he called an, "artificial inflation."  He believes the increase could cause prices to go up in order to keep up.

"I am part of a small business and when you get people coming in who want $15 bucks an hour, you can't afford it," Christopherson said.

Christopherson also worries raising the minimum wage sends the wrong message to new employees starting out in the workforce.

"What about the guys who have been there for 10 years, working their way to the top of the food chain to get paid higher, and then you have these guys who are brand new who are making almost what they're making," Christopherson said.

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