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The debate over raising the minimum wage

6:33 PM, Feb 20, 2013   |    comments
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WXIA - In his State of the Union Address, President Obama proposed raising the minimum wage to $9/hr.

11Alive News commissioned a scientific poll of people across the state of Georgia over the weekend. Sixty percent say the minimum wage should be increased to $9. Fifteen percent said it should be increased to less than $9 and 22 percent said it should be left at $7.25.

The department of labor says about 490,000 Georgians make $9 or less right now. That's about 13 percent of the workforce.

Four states, including Georgia, have a state minimum wage less than the federal wage of $7.25. In that case, the federal wage takes precedent.

Georgia's minimum wage is $5.15, actually paid out to $7.25 because of the federal law.

Matt Coggin is a small business owner and opened DBA BBQ four years ago, in the middle of the recession. He worked 70-hour weeks and took minimum wage himself. Now, the Virginia Highland's restaurant is booming.

Everyone at the restaurant makes more than minimum wage, even more than the $9 suggested by President Obama.

Still, Coggin disagrees with a mandated federal wage hike. He says it would cause higher food costs in restaurants and grocery store, which would trickle down to consumers. He believes small businesses owners would cut hours and workers to keep labor costs under control.

David Dale is among the 490,000 Georgia workers making $9.00 or less. He lost a minimum wage job just before Christmas when the business went under. He's back at work, making $7.50 an hour. He doesn't want to be in that laid-off position again. Like 15 percent of the people polled, he believes the minimum wage should go up, but to something less than $9.

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