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The Idaho Senate voted March 10 to ban local governments from increasing the minimum wage.
The Senate voted 27-8 in the capital to prohibit cities and counties from instituting ordinances to raise the minimum wage. The bill still must be approved by Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, according to The Associated Press.
Idaho’s current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, which is the same as the federal minimum wage. The minimum wage for tipped employees in Idaho is $3.35 per hour, according to the Idaho Department of Labor.
The new bill is not intended to prohibit the state from increasing minimum wage, but is to prevent city and county governments from creating their own minimum wages, according to the AP.
David Barrus, an economics faculty member, said allowing cities and counties to decide their own minimum wage opens room for more competition within the state.
“Let’s say Idaho Falls raised the minimum wage, and Rexburg didn’t,” Barrus said. “You may have many students that say it is worth the gas money to go up there.”
Barrus said this competition would likely cause the state minimum wage to rise anyway.
He said increases in minimum wage make it more difficult for lower skilled workers like teenagers to get jobs.
“These low skilled workers that don’t have skills can’t find a job,” Barrus said. “If they get a job, they get experience. If they get experience, then they can be more valuable in the marketplace.”
The typical minimum wage worker is not a high school student, but 89 percent of those who would benefit from a minimum wage increase are age 20 or older, according to the United States Department of Labor.
Barrus said the increase of minimum wage is often more harmful than beneficial from an economic standpoint.
“When you raise the minimum wage, it increases the cost to the business, so they hire less people,” he said. “We have people who have jobs because of minimum wage, but then we have people who don’t have jobs anymore. The impact of raising minimum wage isn’t always as rosie as it’s made out to be.”
Hillary Clinton, Democratic presidential candidate, posted on Twitter that she is against the Idaho Senate’s vote to ban minimum wage among cities and counties.
“No one should work full-time and struggle to get by,” Clinton tweeted. “Idahoans, like all Americans, deserve a living wage.”
Heather Bennion, a student from California and a sophomore studying child development, said she has never been paid under $10 an hour and feels Idaho’s minimum wage is too low.
“If I were getting paid $7.25 an hour, I don’t feel like I’d be able to make it,” Bennion said. “I’m already barely making it, and I’m making $15 an hour.”
Bennion said Idaho’s minimum wage should be $9 per hour at least, so college students can afford school.
Madison Foote, a student from Idaho and a junior studying business management, said the Idaho minimum wage should stay the same.
“If the minimum wage is lower, like here in Idaho, it forces kids to want to further their education,” Foote said. “It’s so low, you can’t live off of $7.25 for too long.”
Rachel Hitchcock, a student from Missouri and a junior studying exercise physiology, said she knows the challenges of working a $7.50-an-hour minimum wage job but feels increasing minimum wage is unwise.
“I don’t think the minimum wage should be raised because, at least for me, these are kind of gateway jobs into future professions,” Hitchcock said. “It’s not something that really should be considered a career.”