Minimum Wage Makes Change

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It's been nine long years since Michigan saw its last minimum wage increase.

"It seems like it's definitely long overdue," said Jesse Imhoff, of Howell, as he shopped in Lansing Sunday. "I mean, things were a lot different in 1997."

So Sunday, the state's minimum wage plays catch-up with the twenty-first century. It's jumping from $5.15 an hour to $6.95 an hour. For minors, the wages increase to $5.95.

The boost in wages translates into noticeable changes in your bank account. With the old minimum wage, before taxes, workers made $206 a week. With the new wage, weekly earnings will jump to $278.

Monthly, workers earned $824 before today; now, monthly earnings will top $1,100.

And yearly sees the most jarring differences. Old wages yielded around $10,000 a year. Now, workers will bank more than $13,000 a year. That's almost $3,500 more per year in workers' pockets than before.

Cash in the pockets of hourly workers is going to keep growing. This July, wages will go up even more, to $7.15 an hour. And in July 2008, it'll be $7.40. These wages are meant to keep up with the growing inflation rates.

Some shoppers Sunday at Eastwood Towne Center in Lansing wondered how the new wages will affect item prices.

"There's definitely going to be some sort of reprecussions from that," said Lansing shopper Nik Fulbright. "There has to be. Giving out more money, [businesses] are going to have to raise their product expenses."

Others think the new wages are just a jumping-off point.

"I make more than [minimum wage]," said Jennifer Imhoff. "But making $12.75 an hour, I still can't raise a family on that."

But with Michigan's economy, any upward change is good change.