A bill to raise the minimum wage will be up for a vote before the full senate today. The legislation would boost the minimum wage to 8.50 an hour by 2020, and was a campaign trial promise for Governor John Bel Edwards. Edwards says paying the current minimum wage just isn’t right.
“I don’t believe that anyone thinks that seven dollars and a quarter is a fair, adequate, meaningful wage for an hours’ worth of work.”
A full time minimum wage worker makes 290 dollars a week before taxes.
The governor says more women than men work minimum wage jobs, often times are responsible for children at home. He says raising wages would help provide more stable homes for Louisiana’s children.
“If we want to do something meaningful about attacking our child poverty rate, which is one of the highest in the nation, this is something we can do.”
A 2017 report from Louisiana Kids Count put the child poverty rate at 28, which contributed heavily to the state’s 48th ranking in total child well-being.
The bill is receiving opposition from the National Federation of Small Businesses. State Director Dawn Starns says “If the state mandates an increase in the cost of labor, then employers are going to have to raise prices or try to get by with fewer workers.” But UNO Business Professor Mark Rosa doesn’t see the buck twenty five increase being particularly harmful to the state economy.
“It could have a negative impact, but I don’t think at the levels that are being discussed. It’s been sitting fairly stagnant for a number of years.”
Rosa says even without a minimum wage increase, it’d be tough for businesses to try and pay that little under the current economy.
“The unemployment rate is reaching such a level that businesses are competing for employees. You’re not going to be able to pay minimum wage because you can walk across the street and get a job, so it’s going to take care of itself largely.”