• 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

  • News

    UPDATE: MEA restores power to all but 835 customers

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 25, 22:35

    Last updated at 12:15 a.m. on Thursday, May 26 The Matanuska Electric Association reported late Wednesday night that all but 835 customers had power restored after a vehicle crash knocked down a utility pole. “Everyone is back on except those affected by a damaged feeder,” the company said on its Twitter account. The company stated […]

  • Crime

    Shooting at South Anchorage gas station leaves 1 dead

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 25, 21:25

    Last updated at 10:58 p.m. on Wednesday, May 25 The Anchorage Police Department says someone was killed in a shooting at a Holiday gas station on Abbott Road Wednesday night. The shooting was reported around 9 p.m., according to a statement from police. When police arrived at the scene, they found a person dead from […]

  • News

    Kittens in need of foster families

    by Bonney Bowman on May 25, 20:29

    Anchorage Animal Care and Control (AACC) says it is seeing an influx of kittens and needs more people to care for them by fostering them. The goal of fostering is to socialize the kittens and get them ready for adoption. Jay Jackson has been a kitten foster mom for four years, and said it’s rewarding […]

  • News

    Inside a classified Cold War-era antenna site, now shut down

    by Bonney Bowman on May 25, 19:49

    After 50 years monitoring radio waves, the AN/FLR 9 antenna array on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson was shut down Wednesday. The site, also known as the “elephant cage,” is a relic from the Cold War. At 40 acres in size and standing 120 feet tall, the antenna array stands mostly unchanged from when it was built […]

  • Lifestyle

    Bean’s Café chef hoping to win Food Network challenge

    by Shannon Ballard on May 25, 19:08

    Shawn Dinkins is a chef at Bean’s Café who helps serve around 800 hot meals daily and is almost always hustling to make sure lunch is ready on time for those who might not otherwise have it. “I know I could have worked at any other restaurant and I love restaurants, but this is where my […]

  • News

    Anchorage gets first canine wildlife inspector

    by Lauren Maxwell on May 25, 18:53

    He may seem like an unlikely hero, but U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife officers are hoping Dock, an 18-month-old Labrador retriever who started life as a shelter dog, can help them solve a serious problem. Anchorage is one of the busiest cargo hubs in the world, but not everything that comes through the state […]

  • Crime

    DOC commissioner calls officer’s arrest a victory for new unit

    by Eric Ruble on May 25, 16:55

    The Department of Corrections said Wednesday the arrest of one of their own was frustrating for commissioner Dean Williams, but a small victory for a new DOC internal affairs unit. At a press conference, Williams credited the successful investigation and arrest of Goose Creek Corrections officer Adam Spindler, 32, to the commissioner’s new Professional Conduct […]

  • News

    Town Square Park fountain will be removed to address public safety concerns

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 25, 14:49

    Anchorage’s Town Square Park fountain will soon be taken down in an effort by the municipality to combat public safety concerns, according to Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. “This fountain is a way of camouflaging criminal activity that I don’t think we just need to tolerate,” Berkowitz said. The mayor made the announcement late-Wednesday morning inside of […]