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Businesses Have Concerns About Minimum Wage Proposal

By Emily Cassulo
By ecassulo@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn. - West Tennesseans are speaking out about the president's proposed minimum wage increase.

President Obama wants to raise it to $9.00 an hour.

Most local business owners WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News spoke to said they already pay their employees more than minimum wage, but it still impacts small business - if not theirs, then someone else's.

Employees said they are all for a pay increase.

"I'm 46. I've worked for a long time on minimum wage," said HaliHannigan's employee, Don Thyer. "It's nice to know that it's going to come up."

But some business owners are hesitant. Not that they do not want their employees to make more money, but it impacts their budgets a lot.

"As a small business owner, that maybe we're not going to be able to employ as many people," said HaliHannigan's co-owner, Neill Bartlett. "We don't want to see people losing their jobs because small businesses can't afford to pay the extra payroll."

Bartlett said he was concerned about the change at first, but it is not so bad since they have some time to adjust their budget.

"Knowing that it's going to be two years away, hopefully by that time we've grown our business enough that we won't have to make any changes," Bartlett said.

Bartlett said they want to eventually hire more people, not lay them off.

Business owners said it is double edged sword.

Judy Herron said a pay raise is good for the economy. It gives people more money to spend, but she is glad it does not really impact her business.

"Retail's hard enough as it is without throwing curves at it and making it more difficult," said Signature's Boutique owner, Judy Herron.

Employees told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News the pay raise is a great incentive, though they will work just as hard with or without it.

The president's current proposal is actually less than what he wanted in 2008. Then, he called for the minimum wage to increase to $9.50 by 2011.