Lawmakers to consider raising the state minimum wage requirement

Caresse Jackman talks about the possibility of raising the minimum wage.

NEW ORLEANS -- Gov. John Bel Edwards is asking state lawmakers to consider raising the state minimum wage, which currently stands at $7.25 an hour.

In a city like New Orleans, where the service industry is booming, many say a pump in pay is long overdue. However, will that hurt customers in the long run?

"It's not enough. You have the bare minimum just to get where you need to be or to pay your bills," New Orleans resident Khadijah Griffin said.

Workers like Griffin support Edwards' push for boosting the state's minimum wage requirement.

"I'm from California, and they're raising it to $15," Griffin said. "So I'm a server so out here, it's like, we really need that."

Other workers agreed.

"It's something that definitely needs to happen period. No questions asked," New Orleans resident Lyneshia Franco said.

The Governor wants to raise the minimum wage to $8.50 over a two year period. The United Way of Southeast Louisiana said many workers are too close to the poverty line.

"People can't make ends meet on making $957 dollars a month," Mary Ambrose, Chief Impact Officer with the United Way of Southeast Louisiana said. "Try living off of $957 a month and we have a lot of families that are doing that."

In a recent study called the ALICE report, the United Way found 42 percent of households in Louisiana could not afford basic needs like housing, child care, food, health care and transportation.

"They're one crisis away. Just one crisis away from falling back into poverty," Ambrose said.

The study also reveals that those families have nothing left over to invest in their future.

"They don't have the liquid assets like a 401K or savings to cushion that blow," Ambrose said.

Alvi Mogilles sees it differently. She is the owner of McHardy's Chicken & Fixin on Broad Street. Mogilles said increasing the minimum wage will eventually hurt small restaurants and companies like hers.

"Although the minimum wage level may go up, the skill sets of the individual coming to me will not increase," Mogilles said.

If wages potentially go up, along with the costs of products, Mogilles says the only person who will be left truly footing the bill would be customers.

"Truly the economy is so depressed and everybody is struggling. However it also saddens me that I'm going to have to pass this cost on to the consumer as with big businesses are going to have to pass it onto the consumer," Mogilles said.

The City of New Orleans has a minimum wage requirement for city workers and contractors, which is $10.55 an hour.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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