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Labor Group Says Minimum Wage Increase Long Overdue in South Dakota

February 1, 2007

A South Dakota labor group is hopeful a minimum wage bill supported by Governor Mike Rounds will have better luck than one defeated in the House State Affairs Committee this week. Mark Anderson, who is the president and financial secretary of the South Dakota State Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO, says the current rate of five-fifteen an hour falls far short of what's needed for South Dakota workers.

"When you put money in at the bottom, you raise that minimum wage. Those people spend their money in the economy in whatever city or rural area they're in . And that money comes back into the economy and just keeps circulating. So, I can't believe that it would have a negative impact on the economy in general and certainly not for anybody who's working for a living."

Anderson's labor group supports a phased-in wage increase that would raise the minimum wage from the current $5.15 an hour to $7.25 by the year 2009. He says 30 states currently have a minimum wage higher than the federal standards.

"I just cannot believe that this argument continues to go on year after year in South Dakota. We just cannot get up-to-date with the rest of the country and raise our minimum wage."

Opponents prefer waiting until the federal minimum wage is increased, however Anderson believes it's needed now to help many South Dakotans earning poverty wages. The last minimum wage increase in South Dakota was ten years ago.

David Law/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - SD