Local Business Owners Not Sold on Minimum Wage Increase

By: David Norris Email
By: David Norris Email

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Democrats have vowed to keep fighting for a minimum-wage increase, but local business owners aren't so sure the idea will work.

The bill that would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour failed on a 54-42 test vote Wednesday in the Senate. It needed 60 to advance.

Texas A&M student Layne Carter, 21, has been working at Sweet Eugene's House of Java for the past two years. She's had a few raises since then, but she knows all too well the difficulties of getting by on a minimum-wage job. She said if the government wants to raise the amount, she's all for it.

"I work really hard, and I pay my own bills, I pay for school," said Carter. "so for minimum wage to be raised, that would be beneficial."

But the issue doesn't come without cost. According to a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office, while raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would push some lower-income families above the federal poverty threshold, some lower-income jobs may be eliminated all together, putting more workers on the unemployment line.

To make up for the extra costs, coffee shops like Eugene's, as well as fast-food restaurants would likely raise menu prices, among other things.

Sweet Eugene's owner Aaron Brown said not only could the increase effect menu prices, but it may even push some owners out of business all together.

"So is it really fixing the problem? Probably not," said Brown. "It's more like a quick band-aid."

Senate Democrats have pledged to keep up the fight and to make it an issue in the 2014 elections.

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