Business and Economics

Minimum Wage Debate Reaches Indiana

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August 12, 2013 — Grassroots organizations in Indiana and across the country are seeking to raise the minimum wage. But as Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Jimmy Jenkins reports, the research on the economic impact of an increase is divided.

An Indiana Institute of Working Families report released late in July argues for a minimum wage increase, saying it would reduce the money the government spends on welfare.

And Indiana Jobs with Justice recently kicked off what officials say will likely be a year-long campaign to raise the wage floor to more than 10 dollars per hour—up from Indiana and the federal government’s floor of 7-25 per hour.

Amy Shackleford is the group’s executive director. She says now that Wall Street has recovered from the recession, CEO salaries are rising, and it’s time to share some of those profits with low-wage earners.

“We have research from the National Employment Law Center that it could create 3,000 jobs in Indiana because when you raise the wage floor, then those workers have way more money to put back into the economy.”

But officials from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce say raising the minimum wage is not the answer. They weren’t available for a recorded interview, but in an email a Chamber spokesman cited research from the Heritage Foundation that indicates raising the minimum wage will force businesses to hire fewer workers.

The truth is, there’s research to back up both sides, says Indiana Business Research Center Director Jerry Conover. What it comes down to is what sources those sides are citing.

“By in large, there’s not a strong consensus in one direction or the other. The studies are normally done by organizations that have a vested interest.”

He says economists are still searching for a more steadfast conclusion, so in the meantime, he says, whether government officials decide to raise the minimum wage will likely come down not to economics, but politics.

With producer Gretchen Frazee, I’m Jimmy Jenkins.


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