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Kansas City-area workers hopeful for $15 minimum wage in latest COVID-19 relief bill

Boost for wage workers could cost jobs
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Posted at 4:20 PM, Feb 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-21 18:13:47-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Congress returns to Washington D.C. this week to debate and work on the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. Tacked onto the bill is a proposal to raise the Federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

For those making less than $15 an hour, they say it's time to get paid more.

"I have struggled to pay bills," Richard Eiker said.

After working more than 25 years in the fast food industry, Eiker said it's hard to make ends meet.

"Sometimes I rely on food pantries when I don’t always make it or sometimes I rely on handouts or get food delivered to me from my brother and his wife to help me out occasionally," Eiker said.

The ongoing pandemic only made things worse for Eiker. "For me, my hours have been cut. I have not worked a full 40 in months," he said.

Eiker said making $15 an hour would allow him to be more independent.

"I wouldn’t have to live so close to the edge like I and so many other workers do," he said.

Right now the minimum wage in Missouri is $10.30 an hour but over in Kansas it's $7.25 an hour.

If the proposal is passed, it would more than double how much minimum wage workers get paid in Kansas.

According to a report from the Congressional Budget Office, the proposal would cost 1.4 million jobs over the next four years and the Federal budget deficit would increase by $54 billion dollars over the next 10 years.

However the report also shows it would lift about 900,000 people out of poverty as pay for workers would increase by $333 billion.

Eiker told 41 Action News, the raise would be an overall benefit to the local economy.

"15-dollars an hour is a 365 day stimulus for workers so they can then spend on the economy," Eiker said.