Workers shrug at minimum wage hike

Most of us would take a pay increase if it was offered to us. But what if that increase was just 70 cents?

That's the dilemma facing thousands of Mississippians, who welcome the increase in the federal minimum wage, but say it's nowhere near enough.

At New Deal supermarket, employees are paid above minimum wage. Even with the 70-cent increase that takes effect they're still higher. Store manager Kenny Leaks sees it as a way to help out his employees.

"The average worker, the average income family, times are a little tighter right now for most people and they're just trying to make ends meet," he says.

Benita Thomas has worked at New Deal since 1998. She's always been paid above minimum wage. Thomas believes even with the 70-cent increase minimum wage workers will still struggle.

"You can't buy too much of anything for 70 cents, let alone pay a bill."

State Rep. Erik Fleming has worked to pass a state minimum wage. This year his efforts passed the House but not the Senate.

"They think it's a burden, so we've got to have a change in leadership on the Senate side," he says.

Most people we talked to are thankful for the raise in the minimum wage, but if you take a look around a grocery store, you see just how little you can buy with $5.85 an hour. Milk is now almost $4 a gallon.

And with employers having to pay their employees more to do their job, that means you can expect an increase in what you buy from those stores.

"As we have to pay more, we'll have to get more revenue and we'll have to get more profit out of the items we do in fact sell," Leaks says.

That's why workers expect more than a mere 70 cents to help them cover the cost of living.

—Reported by 7 ON YOUR SIDE's Jon Kalahar in Jackson.