Minimum wage goes up Friday to $7.25 an hour

RAINIER EHRHARDT/STAFF
Receptionist Richardine Mathis, who makes minimum wage, answers the phone at Augusta Urban Ministries Thursday.

Richardine Mathis will get a pay increase Friday.

The 67-year-old receptionist at Augusta Urban Ministries said the increase in the federal minimum wage from $6.55 to $7.25 per hour means an opportunity to be more independent.

“It will improve my standard of living. That’s what it means to me,” Ms. Mathis said.

Workers in 30 states, which don’t have a higher minimum, will receive an additional 70 cents an hour pay increase. It is the third time the minimum has gone up since 2007: from $5.15 to $5.85 in 2007 and then to $6.55 in 2008.

Ms. Mathis said that she returned to the work force to supplement her income. She receives Social Security and a retirement pension from University Hospital, where she worked for 20 years, but the extra income is helpful.

The increase in minimum wage could result in higher prices for consumers, according to the Employment Policies Institute. John Wulf, the marketing director for The Krystal Co., said the new wage will affect the bottom line, though few employees make the minimum wage.

“I know we’re not changing anything price-wise. We’re not changing the prices on the products to make up for that,” Mr. Wulf said. “We try to become more efficient.”

“You’d expect that somehow, if businesses are paying more for labor, that they have to transfer those costs to someone. That may have a slight impact on prices,” said Paulo Guimarães, an economics professor at the University of South Carolina.

“On the other hand,” he explained, “you also have people that will be making a little more income and that may not be so bad.”

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