So. Mississippians talk possible federal minimum wage hike

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Would pay increases for American workers help or hurt the economy? That's what the nation must decide. During his state of the union address, President Barack Obama proposed raising the federal minimum wage. WLOX talked with some job seekers in Gulfport to get their thoughts.

Some job seekers at the WIN Job Center in Gulfport said a $9 an hour federal minimum wage would make it easier for Mississippi families to make ends meet.

Elizabeth Bell said, "It helps people get better living conditions and gives them a chance to really have something that they can hold onto."

"Just a secure future for the family. Live maybe comfortable," said Jerry Evans.

President Barack Obama proposes raising the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour from the current $7.25. He called on Congress to make the increase take effect by the end of 2015.

"I think it would help," said Steven Shaw. "If you live like where we live, $7.25 is not worth the drive. It's not even going to pay for your gas or your bills."

Michael Sicard said, "If you raise it a little bit more people might have an incentive to actually get out and work."

Some job applicants like Sean Howell like the idea of a minimum wage boost, but at the same time know it might hurt small businesses.

"I can see businesses and those who have to pay them part time hours at just 20 hours a week,' said Howell. "Nine dollars will hurt the business owners."

Shaw said, "I think it would hurt them a little bit. They may have to do some cutbacks or lay some people off just to afford to be able to pay employees $9 an hour. Still some people said if the government really wants more money in people's pockets, it should lower taxes.

"I'm single and not trying to be mean, but I do get taxed a lot. More than I should I think," said Sicard.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor website, four states and Puerto Rico have minimum wages that are lower than the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

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