President Barack Obama is pushing for a higher federal minimum wage because he says Americans who work full time should not be in poverty.
The president followed up his call for the increase from $7.25 to $9 an hour in Tuesday night's State of the Union address with a trip to a North Carolina manufacturing plant.
Some central Ohio business owners and employees have mixed feelings about the proposal, though.
“It would be phenomenal,” said Tab Wilcoxson, a minimum wage worker. “There’s not really anything unless you’re a well-educated person, which unfortunately I’m not. But you’ve got to go with the flow.”
Wilcoxson said affording a car payment and gas would be impossible if it were not for his wife, who also is working. He said a $9 wage would be huge for him.
“It’s been a long time needed, and a lot of people who work minimum wage desperately need it,” Wilcoxon said.
While a boost in pay would benefit minimum wage workers, some business owners said such an increase could force them to lay off workers.
“Ultimately, we’re going to have to cut hours or cut the amount of employees that we do hire if that is instituted,” said Sue Baisden, co-owner of Capital City Cakes.
Baisden owns the bakery with her husband. Just over the past year, she and her husband have been hiring a mix of minimum-wage and higher rate employees.
“This is our passion,” Baisden said. “These people are our family.”
She said that “family” has struggled in recent months. The business has lost money, and raising the minimum wage could hurt both her company and her workers.
“We have cut back in other areas so that they could keep working,” Baisden said. “When we make money, they make money. That’s when we tell them. When we succeed, you succeed.”
Obama said on Tuesday that the key to reviving America's economy is to bring more jobs to the United States, give Americans the skills they need to perform them and provide those workers with a decent living.
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