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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- President Obama wants congressional leaders to raise the nation’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9 an hour. In his State of the Union address, Obama says it will help the quality of life for millions of Americans.

Neil Belk owns Christy’s Hamburgers in Columbus and disagrees with the President.

“I think it’s actually going to be very detrimental to small business. For instance, with us that will mean that our labor costs are gonna increase which in turn will actually hurt the employees because we’ll be able to pay out fewer hours. You know, we’ve still gotta be in business to make a profit and unfortunately as good of an idea as it may sound, it’s gonna in the long run, hurt the workforce,” says Belk.

Belk believes if something needs to be done to help workers, it shouldn’t be changing minimum wage.

“Either remain the same or lower it. The reason I say that is because if you lower it, then you have more freedom for those employers to pay more hours. Open up more jobs and keep their labor cost the same. Now granted, it’s gonna be a lower wage for someone, in my opinion lower wage is better than no wage!” says Belk.

Columbus Vacuum Center owner Alfred Harden agrees it will hurt small businesses, but sympathizes with workers.

“Minimum wage is designed to be a starting wage, and unfortunately some businesses don’t look at it that way, they think that’s all they should have to pay. I disagree with that, but I do think if you offer the people to do better, you wouldn’t need a minimum wage, if you can pay them what they’re worth, at least what you can get by with,” says Harden.

Golden triangle residents are split on the debate.

“I think it should happen. People can’t live these days on $7.25 an hour,” says Columbus Resident William Taylor, Jr.

Ann Eairheart agrees with the two small business owners.

“It will help the individuals who receive the higher pay, but if they lose their job in the process as a result of that, it can be disastrous,” says Eairheart.

“Minimum wage, with the cost of gas going up, cost of living going up $7.25 and $7.50, is not gonna cut it and $9 will help a lot of people out,” says Crawford resident Ceon Smith.

Harden hopes discussing minimum wage will encourage workers to achieve greater goals so they won’t feel trapped with getting very little pay.

“Try to get more training. And don’t just settle for what you can get. Strive to do better,” says Harden.

President Obama wants to tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that if finally becomes a wage you can live on.


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