Get Ready Businesses, This State May Soon Have A Higher Minimum Wage

By Connor D. Wolf

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo announced her support for a bill which would raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour at a labor union conference Monday.

“What we have to do is support business, but also support our workers with job training programs and with reasonable wages,” Raimondo, a Democrat, declared according to Fox Business. “And I’ll tell you this, nobody who works full-time should have to live in poverty. It’s not right.”

Raimondo spoke to reporters during the conference which was organized by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 328. She added that even with such a raise, it still will not be enough.

Rep. David Bennett and Sen. Erin Lynch are leading the way to raise the minimum wage in the state. The two lawmakers have sponsored a pair of bills which are designed to raise the hourly minimum wage to $10.10 by Jan. 1.

George Nee, president of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, who attended the conference, also noted his support of raising the minimum wage.

“This is about putting money in the pockets of hard-working Rhode Islanders, who get up every morning, go to work, do their jobs and they just need to have a boost,” Nee said. “And this will boost the whole economy.”

Though increasing the minimum wage has vast support on both the federal and state level, many experts warn the idea could actually harm lower-income workers as opposed to helping them. According to a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, employment for low skilled workers falls as the minimum wage goes up.

The study titled, “The Minimum Wage and the Great Recession” found that the 40 percent federal minimum wage increases between 2007 and 2009 reduced employment and income growth for low skilled and younger workers, relative to those workers in states where the new wage increase had less of an effect.

“Between July 23, 2007, and July 24, 2009, the federal minimum wage rose from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour. Over a similar time period, the employment-to-population ratio declined by 4 percentage points among adults aged 25 to 54 and by 8 percentage points among those aged 15 to 24” the study found.

“Over three subsequent years, we find that binding minimum wage increases had significant, negative effects on the employment and income growth of targeted workers” the study also concluded. “Lost income reflects contributions from employment declines, increased probabilities of working without pay.”

The study notes internships as one possible way to actually work without any pay.

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