In a surprise move this week during his State of the Union Address, Pres. Barack Obama called for giving millions of Americans a pay raise. He would do it by having Congress increase the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 an hour.
In the Tri-State, only Ohio's pay rate is above the federal minimum wage. In the Buckeye State, it's currently $7.85/hour.
Supporters say Pres. Obama's proposal would benefit a lot of people in our region, as well as millions of others across the country. They argue it would boost consumer spending, helping small business owners by giving them more sales. The Federal Reserve of Chicago estimates that a $1 jump in the rate would increase minimum wage workers' household spending by almost $3,000 a year.
But critics say raising the minimum wage would actually cost jobs and wouldn't help reduce poverty. They also point out that small businesses are already set to be hit with new regulations and healthcare requirements, meaning they would be the hardest hit.
Regardless of the arguments, it's clear Pres. Obama will have a hard time getting his proposal through Congress. 2007 was the last time a bill of this nature passed. All attempts since then have failed.