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Minimum Wage Increase Could Raise Thousands of Mississippians Out of Poverty

By Paul Boger | Published 15 Jul 2014 08:30am | comments
More than 250 thousand of the one-million working Mississippians would see an increase in their paychecks if the nation's minimum wage is raised to $10.10 per hour. That's according to a report released by Oxfam America, an organization purposed with ending poverty internationally. But not everyone believes it would be in the best interest of the state's economy.
 
For the first time, a report has examined what benefit a $10.10 minimum wage increase would have on Mississippi's 4 congressional districts. Jeffrey Buchanan is policy advisor with Oxfam America. He says the increase would help lift some of Mississippi's neediest resident's out of poverty.
 
"Basically one-in-four workers would receive a wage increase in Mississippi." saus Buchanan. "Four on the Coast, 23.5% of individuals would be impacted. The highest ranking district in the state of Mississippi is Mississippi Two in the Delata. You had 26.1% of the workforce would be impacted by a $10.10 minimum wage."
 
While the wage hike could help a large number of Mississippians, it could also put some out of work. State economist Darrin Webb says research conducted by his office shows that if the minimum wage were increased more than 9 thousand Mississippians could be out of a job.
 
"Minimum wage has been studied to death.' says Webb. "Generally speaking what you find, is that when wages rise, the price of anything goes up. If you raise the price of coffee, people will buy less coffee. If you raise the price of wages, people tend to hire fewer people. That's economic theory.
 
Among the sectors hardest hit could potentially be Mississippi's hospitality and service industry as well as retail and construction jobs. The wage bump could also have a negative impact on the state's small business owners. Ron Aldridge is with the National federation of Independent  Business in Mississippi.  
 
"One thing people forget is that when you raise someone's wage' whether it's a minimum wage or a salaried wage' you increase as well the taxes that are paid by an employer on that particular employee." says Aldridge. "You're raise not just the minimum wage; you're raising a huge amount of labor cost."
 
A report by the Congressional Budget Office says, nationally, 500,000 jobs would be lost if the minimum wage is increased to $10.10. Inversely, the report also found that almost a million families could be raised out of poverty.
 
 


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