Employees Nationwide One Step Closer To Minimum Wage Increase

By: Amy Walker Email
By: Amy Walker Email

Employees across the nation are one step closer to an increased minimum wage. WYMT's Amy Walker talked to employees in Leslie County who say a bigger paycheck, comes at a price.

Betty Bowling drives 27 miles one way to work for minimum wage.

"I come this far because this is the closest work to me," Bowling said.

At the Kudzu Corner in Leslie County, owner Rhonda Brashear says many of her employees live on a minimum wage paycheck.

"In Eastern Kentucky, so many of our workers start out at minimum wage, even with a college education," Brashear said.

So Brashear is watching Congress closely. If a minimum wage increase passes, her employees will go from making $5.15 per hour, to $7.25 an hour.

For small business on a tight budget, a minimum wage increase really adds up. Here at the Kudzu Cafe, that's almost as much as two muffins, per employee, per hour.

The legislation could raise hourly pay in phases over two years. Brashear says her 17 employees are worth the cost.

"While it may bring hardships to small businesses like us, I think we just need to find ways of saving money," Brashear said.

And even for the most typical minimum wage worker, a higher pay is a big step to independence. Jessica Lewis doesn't want her parents paying for all her college expenses.

"I don't have to ask them for money and I feel better making my own money and trying to pay my own way as much as I can," Lewis said.

For Betty Bowling, it's not a choice.

"I have my husband and child to support, so I have to work," Bowling said.

These workers say an extra $2.05 is a pretty penny.

Senate leaders say they will vote on their own minimum wage legislation this month. In one version of the bill, wages would increase by 70 cents within the first 60 days of enactment.

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