Erika Zucker, policy advocate at the Workplace Justice Project, Loyola University Law School, said a higher minimum wage would have a bigger impact on Louisiana than in more well-to-do states.
“What a wage increase, particularly to the lowest-paid workers, does is it has an almost exponential effect on their standard of living,” she said.
Many minimum-wage workers have to hold down more than one job just to pay for their rent, bills, transportation and child care, Zucker said. A raise could allow those workers to spend more time with their families, and it would increase the amount of money spent in the community.
“If you give people at the bottom a little more disposable income, they’re going to be able to go out and spend it on things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford,” Zucker said.
Not just for food and shelter, but going to movies, buying a pair of shoes. A raise of $2 or $3 an hour might not make that big a difference to most people, but it’s substantial for those living at or near poverty level.
Increasing the minimum wage has met so much resistance because it requires businesses, many of them very large, to give workers a raise, she said. It does cost businesses money.
“But we’re talking in many cases about some of the most profitable companies in this state,” she said, pointing to giant retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target.
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