• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 7s

Proposed minimum wage increase generates lively debate at library forum

By Kate McPherson 7:02 AM July 31, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

Sitting outside of the Loussac Library Wednesday night, 19-year-old Chris Hase contemplated his next move, having just quit his job at McDonald’s.

“I wasn’t able to pay rent, phone bill, anything like that,” said Hase, who, like many minimum-wage earners, can’t afford to live in Anchorage while earning $7.75 an hour.

“I was working two jobs,” the teen said.

His second job at Subway paid $7.75 an hour, but the lack of sleep caught up with him.

Hase said even a dollar or two an hour more would make a difference in his life.

“I would definitely say you should raise the minimum wage because you can’t live on it,” he said.

Meanwhile, inside the library, University of Alaska economics professor Dr. Kyle Hampton and former state labor commissioner Ed Flanagan debated the pros and cons of a minimum wage increase in Alaska. The forum was hosted by Alaska Common Ground and attended by more than 100 people. Ballot Measure 3, an initiative to raise the minimum wage, will be put before voters at the November 4 general election.

“It’s a total of 26 percent with a two-year phase-in,” said Flanagan, who is chairman of the group Alaskans for a Fair Minimum Wage.

Flanagan is the prime sponsor of the initiative to raise the minimum wage to $9.75 over two years.

“I think anybody would agree, especially with the cost of living in this state, that that qualifies as a modest proposal,” Flanagan said.

Hampton is against the initiative, saying it could affect job growth.

“It’s not just job losses you should worry about, but a lot of folks have stressed the fact that it’s a lack of job creation, so you may not see direct unemployment but you’ll see a lack of jobs created,” Hampton said.

Flanagan says job losses will be negligible.

“Probably offset by the increase in economic activity engendered by the better spending power of low-wage workers who spend every dime they’ve got,” he said.

Hampton argued someone will have to pay for people to make more money, and he said it’s unlikely to be the business owners.

“What we would like is that Walmart and Walmart’s shareholders pay that cost, or the shareholders of McDonald’s pay the cost, but that’s in fact not going to happen,” said Hampton, who points to a rise in prices for consumers as a potential downfall to the wage increase.

Flanagan and other supporters of the minimum wage increase say the current rate doesn’t come close to assuring people can maintain a healthy standard of living.

 

 

Latest Stories

  • On-Air

    Inside the Gates: Change of command for the Army’s 4/25

    by Lauren Maxwell on Mar 24, 20:55

    A change of command ceremony on JBER Friday morning welcomed a new leader to the nation’s only Arctic airborne combat brigade. Col. Paul Larson assumed command of the Army’s 4/25 Airborne Brigade Combat Team. It’s the first assignment in Alaska for Larson, who spent the last six months in Afghanistan. When asked about the challenges […]

  • Lifestyle

    UAA unveils Alaska’s first lactation pod for nursing mothers

    by Shannon Ballard on Mar 24, 20:37

    Nursing mothers at the University of Alaska Anchorage now have a dedicated, private space to feed their babies or pump breast milk. A new lactation pod is located on the first floor of the student union, and is the first of its kind in the entire state. It features seating, shelves, electrical outlets and USB […]

  • Politics

    28 years later, Exxon Valdez still casts shadow as Alaskans weigh in on oil tax change

    by Liz Raines on Mar 24, 19:44

    Friday marked the 28th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill — and the end of a long week of debate in Juneau on big policy changes for the oil industry. Tensions leftover from the historic event have spilled over into a battle on oil tax credits. While lawmakers are welcoming of the revenue that oil […]

  • Sports

    Results: ASAA 3A, 4A high school basketball semifinals

    by Dave Goldman on Mar 24, 18:49

    Results from Friday’s semifinal games at the Alaska Airlines Center. Please check back; this story will be updated as games are completed. 3A Boys Semifinal Monroe Catholic 42 – Valdez 40 The Rams held off the Buccaneers’ late rally to advance to the title game. Valdez’ slow start didn’t help as it went scoreless in the […]

  • News

    Good Samaritan cleans graffiti from park strip train

    by Lauren Maxwell on Mar 24, 17:55

    ANCHORAGE — A good Samaritan has helped to remove the graffiti from the train that sits on the Delaney Park Strip, and it wasn’t the person who first volunteered to do the job in the first place. The graffiti was discovered Wednesday morning. Anchorage park planner Maeve Lavtar said she had instructed city maintenance crews […]

  • Sports

    Sitka basketball team returns to Anchorage after receiving national honor

    by Dave Leval on Mar 24, 17:08

      The Sitka Wolves basketball team are champions, and it has nothing to do with shooting percentage or rebounds. They made a return to Anchorage this week during the state basketball tournament. While their quest for a state title ended after a first round loss to Monroe Catholic, the Wolves were reminded of a much […]

  • Politics

    Young hails demise of health bill, wants more work on issue

    by Associated Press on Mar 24, 16:00

    The longest-serving Republican in the U.S. House says he would have voted against a GOP health care bill had it been brought to a vote. U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska says it was not good legislation. He says it would have hurt people on Medicaid and did not address issues with high costs. The […]

  • DayBreak

    Mic Check in the Morning: Rhythm Future Quartet

    by Daybreak Staff on Mar 24, 13:15

    Keeping the genre of gypsy jazz alive, the acoustic ensemble Rhythm Future Quartet will be touring Alaska for two weeks. Their first stop is downtown Anchorage. From there they will cross the state, going from Kodiak to Skagway. According to violinist Jason Anick, gypsy jazz is a style of music that was pioneered in France during […]