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Proposed minimum wage increase debated locally

By Preston Ayres, payres@wcyb.com
Published On: Feb 13 2013 05:01:34 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 14 2013 03:27:25 PM CST

During Tuesday's State of the Union address, President Obama called for Congress raise in the minimum wage. The president argues the current rate does not keep a family above the poverty line.

During Tuesday's State of the Union address, President Obama called for Congress raise in the minimum wage. The president argues the current rate does not keep a family above the poverty line.

A minimum wage worker earns $14,500 a year, according to the White House. President Obama says that's not enough.

"Even with the tax relief we've put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line," President Obama said during the State of the Union address.

The President laid out a plan to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9.00 by the end of 2015. White House estimates say it would give a pay raise to 15 million low-income workers. "Let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour,” Obama said during the speech.

But that $1.75 pay hike does not come cheap for places like Bristol's YMCA, which relies heavily on part-time minimum wage workers. "The majority of our employees make minimum wage, up to $10 or $11 an hour. All of those folks are going to have to see a bump," said CEO Chris Ayers.

Ayers crunched the numbers and says in the end, the President's proposed pay raise will cost his organization close to $100,000 a year. He says they will have no choice but to pass the expense along. "It will be a $4 to $5 increase [in membership],” says Ayers. “It does not sound like a lot, but adult membership is $50 dollars a month. That's a 10 percent increase in fees."

Ayers says fees could go up more if the organization sees expenses increase from their suppliers.

Experts say the minimum wage increase faces a tough political fight from Republicans.