Minimum Wage Hike Arrives Just In Time

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Michigan State senior Laura Bell makes hourly wages as a barista in East Lansing. She knows how hard it is to make ends meet on a shoestring budget.

"There are a lot of people who work really hard for a [very small] amount of money," Bell said, "so I think it's time for them to get a reward."

That reward comes October 1, when minimum wage will go from $5.15 an hour to $6.95. There will also be a youth-specific minimum wage of $5.91 an hour for those under 18.

For some local businesses like Moosejaw Mountaineering, the extra expenses may be hard to swallow.

"It is quite a leap," said Mark Heinrich, assistant store manager. "I think they will consider that in the management of the hours of this store. But there are a certain amount of those manhours that we have to have to run this shop."

Heinrich wonders how small companies will compensate for higher wages. Moosejaw uses the Michigan minimum wage scale as a basis for its own employees. But Heinrich sees a silver lining.

"Hopefully [the higher wages] encourage people that are working here to be more excited about their positions, which hopefully will bring more business into the shop," he said.

"You take somebody that's making X amount of dollars, and then bump that up all of the sudden by two, and hopefully they'll take more pride in their job because it's worth more to them."

Most everyone agrees the wage increase is overdue. MSU's Bell sees the hike as a way for Michigan to break back into the national economic spotlight-- in a positive way.

"Hopefully it will be an incentive to bring people in from out of state. People will say, 'Oh, you know, Michigan's got some good options,'" she said.

And those options are what the elections in November will be all about.