Thousands get a raise with minimum wage

By: Sara Shookman Email
By: Sara Shookman Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Thousands of East Tennessee workers are getting a raise Friday.

The federal minimum wage is up 70 cents to $7.25 per hour.

It's the first increase since a jump on July 24, 2008.

Cameron Dake is working hard as a cashier at Wishbones.

She's working as hard as she did yesterday.

But today, her time is worth a little more.

"To me, the situation, I'm in right now, anything makes a difference," says Dake.

"I think it's a really bad time, for everything to have to raise up, but I know personally. I mean my paychecks will be a little bit bigger."

More than 89,000 Tennesseans work at minimum wage or below.

Nationally, the rise could affect 3 to 5 million people.

But the bump may not be good news for all.

"It's going to help some and its going to hurt others," says Tim Whitt, the manager of the Tennessee Career Center in Knoxville. "We have a totally different pool of people now who are just needing some type of employment. And they are willing to accept minimum wage jobs."

Cindy Miller says she's one of the those people.

"It's been rough. The few people are hiring seen to have so many more applicants coming after them and so the competition is high," says Miller.

She thought her experience in the workplace could earn her a higher paying job like she's had in the past.

But after months of applications and interviews, she's open to anything.

"'What's the least you would take?' I'm like, 'Well, if it's a paycheck, it's more than I'm making now. I'm good with whatever."

The new minimum also raises the cost of business.

"We've already been hearing restaurant owners and other business people talk about they're going to increase prices in order to absorb the increase in minimum wage which they are going to be paying," says Whitt.

Dake says she worried she could lose hours at work as well.

But at Wishbones, the manager, Melissa Martin, says sales will cover the increased cost.

"I don't see anybody's hours being cut due to it," says Martin. "We're just going to wait and see how it affects us, but right now, we're not going to raise prices."

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