Archived Story

Coalition: Raise minimum wage

Published 10:20am Friday, October 11, 2013

A coalition made up of faith, labor and nonprofit leaders is urging the Minnesota Legislature to increase the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour when they reconvene in January.

Representatives from the Raise the Wage Coalition are traveling around the state presenting research that shows how a minimum wage increase would boost the economy and who it would affect. The research was completed by Jobs Now, a member of the coalition.

Joe Sheeran, spokesman for the coalition and communications director for Minnesota 2020, met with the Tribune Wednesday.

“We’re going to pound this message hard in the local news,” Sheeran said. “Raising Minnesota’s minimum wage is good for Minnesota’s economy and it’s good for Minnesota’s workers.”

Citing the research, he said about 357,000 Minnesotans would receive raises with an increased minimum wage, totaling an additional $470 million in increased spending power.

Of those affected, 57 percent — or 200,000 — would be women, he said. An increase would also address a growing poverty gap between white Minnesotans and people of color.

Sheeran said the research shows that almost 24,000 black workers would see increases, along with about 30,000 Hispanic workers and about 30,000 Asian workers. The wage increase would boost wealth by $31 million for the state’s black community and by $43 million for the Hispanic community, according to the findings.

The organization’s report also states 77 percent of workers potentially impacted by a $9.50 minimum wage are 20 and older, fighting a myth that low-wage workers are teenage workers, he said. Roughly 33 percent of minimum wage workers are married.

Both the Minnesota House and Senate passed bills to increase the minimum wage last session, but there was a difference in how much the wage should go up.

The House voted to increase the wage to $9.50 an hour by 2015, while the Senate passed a version to raise the wage by $7.75 by 2015.

“What we’re hoping is early on in the legislative session the Senate and House can come together on a $9.50 minimum wage,” Sheeran said.