USA TODAY: Still looking for a raise? The fight for a higher minimum wage to continue in 2018

By Charisse Jones and Kellie Ell
USA TODAY, July 14, 2017

After her state's minimum wage rose in January to $9 from $7.50 an hour, Kathy Rondone got an extra $20 a week in her paycheck. "To me that's not coffee money or spare change,'' says Rondone, an administrative assistant who lives in Augusta, Maine. "It is a set of windshield wipers when mine broke in a storm last February. ... It's a really big deal.'' 

Working Americans still looking for a raise should look to their state and local governments for help. As the nation heads into a midterm election year, a movement to raise the minimum wage continues to pick up steam on the heels of pay hikes that have lifted the earnings of low-income workers from Alaska to Washington, D.C. Advocates in Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey and Vermont are teeing up campaigns for a $15 dollar minimum wage in 2018. ...

But some business owners don't believe raising the lowest wages will force entrepreneurs to shut their doors.  

"I'm just not buying it that anyone will go out of business,'' says Ken Weinstein, owner of the Trolley Car Diner in Philadelphia.  "These businesses that say that are just looking at their immediate bottom line.''

Weinstein, who has roughly 80 employees working at two restaurants, pays a minimum wage of $8 — higher than the statewide wage of $7.25. He intends to increase the pay a dollar a year until it hits $11.

With a higher wage, "we'll have more loyal, hardworking employees,''  says Weinstein, adding that more money in workers' pockets boosts the local economy.  "But it's very difficult for one business to do it. ... It needs to be done across the board so all small businesses are on the same playing field.'' ...

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Copyright 2017 USA Today

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