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    Ten-ten: it’s not a date, it’s not a score—for many it’s a rallying cry to improve the standard of living for Kentuckians.  $10.10 an hour is the proposed increase of the minimum wage, and, according to a recent study by The Kentucky Center of Economic Policy, “the increase in the minimum wage under consideration by the Louisville Metro Council would benefit an estimated 22 percent of those who work in Louisville.”

    KCEP found that, contrary to stereotypes, the individuals who would benefit most from this shift would not be teens working part-time jobs after school. Ninety-two percent are at least 20 years of age, and there are more workers over the age of 50 who would benefit than there are teenagers. Fifty-three percent of those benefitting are women, and 77 percent of workers whose family income is below the poverty line would get a raise from the increase.

    Those workers who stand to gain work most commonly in restaurants and food services, retail stores and health services. Sixty-three percent work full time with the remainder working part time, and impacted workers have a range of education levels. Among those to benefit are an estimated 3,300 veterans.

    However, even those who currently make minimum wage fear that a hike to the $10.10 mark will come with unintended consequences. In interviewing four workers at local establishments who make minimum wage about their opinion on the proposed ban, they said:

    “Having the minimum wage hike could be both good and bad. The good: Living would be much easier for a person to support themselves without having to rely on multiple jobs or additional support. Trust living month to month for the bare basics is not a walk in the park. But there is bad too: If the minimum wage is raise, the basic cost of living is bound to climb too, which could cause the wage increase to be numbers but not a less fearful way of living,” one said.

    Another said: “I would be not ok with the minimum wage raise because then other prices of living, food and anything other necessities would go up with it. The more we raise our own wages, the more of problem inflation becomes in a sense. Too much greed in the world from both ends.”

    The next continued: “If wages followed the pattern of inflation, the minimum wage would much higher than $10.10 an hour. I don't really think that the basic cost of living will rise, at least not much more than it is now.”

    “As much as I would love the minimum wage to be raised, that would mean that the basic cost of living would go up.  And because I'm trying to save up to move out, I think it would be counterproductive.  Not to mention a wage increase would cut jobs because businesses would only be able to pay so many employees.  I work retail, and if minimum wage were raised, a lot of people I work with would lose our jobs because there wouldn't be enough payroll.  And there's barely enough payroll as it is,” said the last employee.

    Yet according to Jason Bailey, the director of KCEP who wrote the report, “The proposed increase would give a much-needed boost to many thousands of low-wage workers whose incomes have been stagnant or declining and are inadequate to provide a decent standard of living, and the increase is supported by an extensive body of research suggesting little to no harm to employment.” The analysis also cited research studies on past minimum-wages increases in states and cities around the country, finding such measures “have little to no effect on employment.”

    What is your opinion on the proposed raise of minimum wage? Let us know in the comments. 

    Ashlie Danielle Stevens's picture

    About Ashlie Danielle Stevens

    I am a freelance food, arts and culture writer. Among other publications, my work has appeared at The Atlantic’s CityLab, Eater, Slate, Salon, The Guardian, Hyperallergic and National Geographic’s food blog, The Plate.

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