Memphis Reacts to Obama’s Comments on Minimum Wage

(Memphis) The president’s comments on the minimum wage have a lot of people talking.

“No one who works full-time should have to live in poverty,” said President Barack Obama, who called for an increase of the federal minimum wage.

There was a lot of applause from lawmakers on the subject at last night’s state of the union address when Obama said it should be raised to $9.00 from $7.25.

Some say it will help workers catch-up with the cost of living, but others believe it will cause more harm to our economy.

“If our costs go up, we have to eventually raise prices,” said Small Business Owner Rusell Carter.

Carter has been serving-up pizza and movies in Harbor Town for the last fifteen years.

He says all of his full-time employees already make at least $9.00 an hour.

The President’s pitch on a minimum wage increase wasn’t so popular in his kitchen.

“Shocked and very disappointed,” he said.

“It’s not fair if someone comes in who has never had a job and makes as much as I do,” said Carter’s morning cook, Robert Wetherington.

“You are asking basically for 16 to 18-year-olds who work 20 hours a week to have a starting wage of $9,00,” said Carter.

Carter says it would mean that all of his employees would need a raise as well to be fair and to match their experience, like Wetherington, who’s been with the company for years.

Carter says those pay increases across the board would take a bite out of his bottom line but could do worse to other small businesses, “If you go and ask small businesses to basically pay all their employees two dollars more an hour, you are going to put a lot of businesses out of business.”

Many, including the President, believe the current minimum wage of $7.25 isn’t a living wage.

“Could you live on $7.25 an hour?” asked Reporter Sabrina Hall.

“No. Not as a full-time employee,” said Carter.

But Carter says that’s why he pays his full-time workers more than that.

He says for part-time employees, something like $8 dollars an hour would be more fair.

The last time the federal minimum wage was increased was in July 2009 when it went from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour.

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