Minimum Wage Increases For First Time In A Decade - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/24/07-Longview

Minimum Wage Increases For First Time In A Decade

Starting Tuesday, the nation's lowest-paid workers will be seeing a raise on their paychecks. The federal minimum wage is going up to $5.85 an hour. That's 70 cents higher than the old minimum wage of $5.15. That means before taxes, a person on minimum wage will be making more than $12,000 a year, and there will be another 70-cent increase for the next two summers.  By 2009, they'll be making $7.25 an hour. KLTV 7 did some research to find out who in East Texas will be affected by the first minimum wage increase in a decade.  

DeeDee Morales has been working the concession stand at Movies 9, the dollar theater in Longview, for almost five months.   In those five months, she was getting paid just $5.15 an hour.  Now, thanks to a federal increase, she'll be getting $5.85. 

"That helps out a lot considering all the prices are going up and stores and gas prices going up," DeeDee says.

And it helps considering DeeDee has to help her Mom, who's on disability, pay the bills.

"Rent, bills, car payments...it helps me and my Mom out since it's just the two of us, because the only income she gets is my dad's social security. That's it," DeeDee said.

And her employer said it's about time for an increase, but being a dollar theatre, there's not much in the budget to pay DeeDee more than minimum wage.

"It's something that should have been done a long time ago.  It should be at seven [dollars] right now, so it's no problem.  We're not raising our prices from it.  We're just going to compromise and make sure everybody gets their raises in," said Movies 9 manager Lisa Williams.

Other smaller business in East Texas that also employ high school students didn't want to go on camera, but they did tell KLTV they're being affected by the minimum wage increase.  They're actually having to raise their prices. 

For the most part, the majority of East Texans are making above minimum wage.  Nationally, only 10 percent of the workforce are minimum wage workers.

This now ends the longest span without a federal minimum wage increase since it was enacted in 1938.  The last increase was 40 cents back in 1997.

Tracy Watler/Reporting: tracy@kltv.com

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