Minimum wage workers in a handful of states will be ringing in the new year with an automatic pay raise. It is a trend that reflects growing concerns about the spread of low wage jobs here and across the U.S..
Of the 13 states making the move to increase the minimum wage, our state isn’t one of them, which not only has a lot of residents concerned but financial experts as well.
At the first of the year, state minimum wages will be higher than the federal requirement of $7.25 an hour in 21 states, and that’s up from 18 just two years ago.
According to members of congress, this legislative movement has been fueled by this years walkouts in at least 100 cities by fast food workers calling for $15 dollars per hour pay, and the right to form unions.
In our state, financial experts say that legislation has been introduced several times to increase minimum wage, but a decision is still hanging in the balance.
Officials from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy believe a move like this would only boost economic security across the Mountain State.
"You would expect roughly to generate close to 200 million over a three year period for the economy, and also too you would expect to see an increase in over 800 jobs. So, in that way you would really see it benefit West Virginia's economy," said Alyson Clements, Outreach Coordinator for the West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy.
On Monday, 5 News went out and talked with a lot of local residents how did they feel about this nationwide push to increase minimum wage, and not one person we came across was against the raise, whether they worked in these minimum wage paying jobs, or not. If anything they were concerned about where our state stands on the issue, and if it were going to change.
"It's hard for people to make it with the way the cost of living is, and I think they ought to reconsider it, maybe we don't have to make it as high as everyone else," said Robert Smith.
"It's hard to live off minimum wage, even if you have one kid. They need to raise the minimum wage to help us out, the working families," said Samantha Snyder.
Financial experts also said that they estimate that around 90% of West Virginians currently making minimum wage are over the age of 20.