Minimum Wage Goes Up

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - On Thursday it was the best of news for those working at the bottom of the nation's pay scale.

Thanks to the the Fair Minimum Wage Act passed in 2007, the federal minimum wage rose for the second time from $5.85 an hour to a new rate of $6.55 an hour.

That's a 70-cent pay difference.

"It basically is a redistribution of corporate profits to lowest income earners who are going to spend the money. It's going to be good for sales. It's going to be good for the income of these people, the lifestyles of these people. There will be no impact on employment, no impact on inflation. Employers won't even feel it," said Gary Latanich.

Latanich is an economics professor from Arkansas State University, and says in reality, minimum wage rates are still years behind where they should be.

"Minimum wage increases over time have actually been less than the kind of wage rates we get over time," said Latanich.

All in all, Arkansas and Missouri were already doing well when it came to the minimum wage rate, both paying higher than the federal rate.

For the year of 2008, Missouri is paying $6.65, however, their rate is adjusted yearly based on the U.S. Consumer Index.

Here in Arkansas, the rate was sitting at $6.25, but with the federal rate going up, it will also-- with a total gain of 30-cents for Arkansans.

So what difference does 30-cents really make?

In doing the math, you will gain 24 dollars per paycheck before taxes.

Over the course of the year, that's an additional 576 dollars in your pocket.

And any extra money, is money back into the economy, and at a time when the money roller coaster could dip, that's a good thing.

"It's fair. It's good. It will help the economy. It's good news for everybody," said Latanich.

The minimum wage will go up again, exactly one year from now.  In 2009 the rate will move up to $7.25 per hour.

This summer also marks the 70th anniversary of the federal law that provides minimum wage, overtime, and youth employment standards.

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