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Local businesses watching potential minimum wage hike

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 6:35 PM CST
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - National dialogue over a potential increase in the federal minimum wage has local small businesses watching the conversation closely.

As part of a potential $1.9 billion COVID-relief package, a federal minimum wage increase is on the table. It would more than double the current rate of $7.25 to $15 per hour, drawing lines between Republican lawmakers in Washington and the Biden administration.

“I think the minimum wage is something that is particularly troubling and harmful, at a time when you’re trying to get people back to work and trying to create jobs again.” said Sen. John Thune.

“That’s what he [Biden] feels is right for the American worker. American workers, I should say. And the men and women who are working hard, just trying to make ends meet.” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

That has advocates for small businesses in South Dakota concerned to what it could mean for them. Currently the minimum wage rate in South Dakota is $9.45 an hour.

“They have to react to what the market suggests is the prevailing wage for workers in their sector.” said Lindsey Riter-Rapp, South Dakota State Director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Riter-Rapp said that smaller businesses have concerns about a minimum wage increase in regular years. But many would have to make tough choices if an increase came as many are still struggling to work through the ongoing pandemic.

“Some of the conversation would still be the same. I mean, obviously it couldn’t come at a worse time, in that many of our businesses are really just struggling to keep their doors open.” Riter-Rapp said.

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