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Tomorrow are the South Carolina primaries, and former VP Joe Biden leads in the poll, followed by winner of the first three contests, Sen. Bernie Sanders and businessman Tom Steyer. Some Republican South Carolinians may vote for Sanders because they want closed primaries.

Minimum Wage Increase a Welcome Relief for Struggling SD Workers

July 24, 2008

Sioux Falls, SD – The second of three scheduled increases in the federal and state minimum wage goes into effect today. Mark Anderson, president of the South Dakota Federation of Labor, says the hike will help more than just high school and college students. He believes the 70-cent raise to $6.55 per hour is welcome relief to all South Dakota workers who struggle with rising energy and food costs.

"The average minimum wage worker brings home more than half of their family's income. So, it's important that the minimum wage go up. There's been a lot of wage inequity, and an increase in the minimum wage helps bring those families that have been suffering from that out of poverty."

Opponents worry the pay increase will hurt small businesses operating on narrow margins. But Anderson argues the pay increase will actually stimulate the economy by giving workers more spendable income.

"People need to understand that adults make up 79 percent of the workers who benefit from the increase in the minimum wage. I can't imagine under what circumstances it wouldn't help the economy. Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, 'The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much. It's whether we provide enough for those who have too little.' And that's where the minimum wage comes in. It helps those people on the bottom rung of the economic ladder."

Anderson says the minimum wage has actually fallen behind in recent years, with the cost of living increasing by 26 percent for South Dakota workers since 1997. The minimum wage will increase to $7.25 an hour next July. The first increase to $5.85 per hour went into effect in July of last year.

More information on the South Dakota Federation of Labor is available online at
www.sdaflcio.org.

David Law/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - SD