Posted: Feb 14, 2013 9:15 AM by David Jay - MTN News
BILLINGS - The President proposed a minimum wage increase in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, and his proposal of $9 an hour in 2015 would be higher than the wage anticipated in Montana.
Montana's current minimum wage of $7.80 an hour is higher than the federal minimum of $7.25. It increases each year depending on the Consumer Price Index.
The Montana Department of Labor and Industry estimates Montana's minimum wage would be about $8.10 to $8.15 an hour in 2015.
Nine dollars an hour would be approximately a 13 percent increase from the previous year in Montana.
Economists say it's tough to measure the minimum wage's effect on jobs.
"It's difficult to separate out the positive and negative impacts to a minimum wage increase," said Barbara Wagner, senior economist for Montana's Department of Labor and Industry. "There's certainly some groups that would be positively impacted and some groups would be negatively impacted but overall this is something Montana currently does and it's not a huge deviation from our existing policy."
Scott Rickard, an economist at MSU-B, says it's possible fewer people could be working minimum wage jobs, but he also said it's possible for growth in other areas.