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How Federal Push For Minimum Wage Hike Impacts SD

January 29, 2014, 6:05 PM by Brady Mallory

How Federal Push For Minimum Wage Hike Impacts SD

President Barack Obama says it is time to give America a raise.  On Tuesday, the president announced he would raise the minimum wage for new federal contract workers to $10.10 per hour.  Right now federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 an hour.  It has not changed since 2009.

In the meantime, South Dakota voters will decide in November whether to raise the state minimum wage to $8.25 an hour.  Supporters hope the president's push to raise it will impact the discussion all over the country.  Josiah's Coffeehouse and Cafe owner, Steve Hildebrand, already pays his employees more than the minimum wage.

"It's not just about me," Hildebrand said.  "They shouldn't have to live in poverty and come to work every day and really work hard."

While President Obama talks about raising it across the board, Hildebrand said we need that to combat poverty, even in Sioux Falls.  Though the Department of Labor's latest report lists the city's unemployment rate at 2.9 percent, Sioux Falls School District numbers show nearly half of its elementary students qualified for free and reduced lunch last year.

"What that means in Sioux Falls is too many people are working low income jobs," Hildebrand said.

South Dakota Chamber of Commerce President David Owen said there are some concerns about how some businesses will handle an increase.

"Where it tends to have a bigger impact is in the small towns in South Dakota that don't have economies that are quite as strong and you're increasing the cost for very small businesses," Owen said.

Owen said a majority of men and women making minimum wage will not be stuck there for long. 

"A good portion of the people who are at minimum wage are single; they are second incomes to a home.  They are young people entering the workforce," Owen said.

Owen does point out the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce believes the state's minimum wage should be the same as the federal standard.

Here is a glance at what each state pays for minimum wage.

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