Worker: Minimum Wage Bump Is ‘A Big Deal’

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Friday marked the first time in 10 years that Minnesotans got a minimum wage increase.

The state’s minimum wage for large employers is now $8 an hour.

That’s up from $6.15, though most employers had to pay the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

For many minimum wage workers, $8 an hour is a much needed boost to their household incomes.

“It’s a big deal,” said Misrak Anbesse.

Anbesse was one of 700 airport workers who rallied earlier this year for a pay raise.

She and her co-workers have become the face of a movement to put more money in the pockets of people making at or near minimum wage.

“The majority of us have to work two jobs just to survive,” she said, “and we still worry how to pay the rent and get groceries.”

Anbesse and others see the increase as a long-overdue raise.

Now she feels the extra money will help her better take care of her family.

“I hope it will help me,” she said. “It’s like a difference of $40 a week. I’m sure it helps me with my shopping or rent.”

Not everyone is happy.

Some employers believe increasing workers’ pay will hurt their profits and ability to hire new employees.

But those who fought for the increase say it’s needed.

“When we increase family income we all do better,” said Peggy Flanagan, of the Raise the Wage Coalition. “Children live in economically stable homes and perform better in school and businesses see more consumer spending.”

Large employers now pay workers a minimum of $8 per hour.

Next year, it will increase to $9 per hour and 9.50 per hour in 2016 followed by annual cost of living increases.

Anbesse says the increase in the minimum wage is a first step towards pulling working families out of poverty.

She says even with the increase she and many of her co-workers will still have to work two jobs to make ends meet.

More from Reg Chapman
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