Local business weighs in on Obama's call to raise minimum wage

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - President Barack Obama called for an increase to the minimum wage during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, recent statistics indicate about 1.6 million Americans are making minimum wage at $7.25 per hour. Tuesday, President Obama challenged businesses to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

One local business owner, Sloan Simmons, said the key to her successful business can be found in her employees paychecks.

"We believe that if you pay good wages, you get good people," she said.

Sloan is the co-owner of Stuff in Brookside. She said she pays her employees well above minimum wage and above Obama's proposed increase and that it hasn't hurt her profits.

"Communities are healthier when people are paid well," she said.

However, one local economist, Chris Butler said raising minimum wage could have a ripple effect that could hurt consumers.

"People say, ‘Won't that restaurant or small business just pass on the cost to the consumer?' Well if they can they will." Butler said.

He said higher-paying, low-skilled jobs could make the workplace more competitive.

"A three dollar increase in the hourly wage rate is going to be appreciated. The problem is, I don't think it's going to actually benefit as many people as we might think because I think some people may lose their jobs because of it," he said.

For Sloane, she's not sweating a possible increase. She said she has a different formula for success. 

"I don't think it would strain our business at all, I really don't. I truly believe that all ships rise in a high tide, so I think it's time, it truly is time," she said.

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