Raising Kentucky’s minimum wage would reduce child poverty and help about a quarter of the state’s workers, said a brief released Wednesday by an economic think tank.
The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy say a $10.10 per hour minimum wage would lead to a boost in consumer spending.
That, they say, would spur job creation and allow low-income families to make ends meet.
Opponents argue higher wages would force layoffs or cause businesses to increase prices. But Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said the minimum wage increase would actually keep employees in what are currently lower-paying jobs. That cuts the costs businesses pay to hire and train new workers.
“The lack of consumer spending is a big impediment to additional hiring; that additional money in people’s pockets, low-wage workers’ pockets at this time, money that they will then spend, could actually result in a small job gain,” Bailey says.
Bailey supports a bill filed by House Speaker Greg Stumbo that would raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10.
Fifty-seven percent of Kentuckians support the increase, according to a recent Public Policy Polling survey.
Stumbo’s measure would also require pay equity for women, who earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.
KCEP director Jason Bailey says that the General Assembly has a responsibility to pass a bill before them that would raise the Kentucky minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and provide pay equity for women.
“You know, there’s good research showing that higher earnings for families has long-term benefits for children,” Bailey says. ” So, you know, it’s time to do it. We’ve let the value of the minimum wage, the real value of the minimum wage decline over the last few decades, and that’s a big reason that our poverty levels are what they are.”