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Letter: Workers need higher wages

“Bad facts on minimum wage” by Alex Marcus was correctly titled. The letter published Nov. 14 claims that the Select Committee on Living Wage Jobs is not bipartisan. The fact is that the committee is bipartisan, but Republicans do not show up. No Republicans were present at the Willmar meeting earlier this fall and I take that as a lack of concern about the damage that low-wage jobs are doing to our community.

Minnesota’s median household income has fallen 10 percent in the last 10 years, 80 percent of people on public assistance are working or worked in the last quarter, and 40 percent of the jobs in Minnesota pay less than $14 — which is a living wage for two adults working and taking care of two kids. It’s hard to dispute these facts when you talk to working people in the Willmar area. A lot of workers aren’t seeing economic opportunity and are making the same wage as they were five or 10 years ago.

Republicans don’t like to acknowledge that workers’ wages are falling as corporate profits are rising — if they admit it’s true, they have to acknowledge that the status quo can’t continue. Raising the minimum wage is a step in the right direction — that’s why a recent Gallup poll showed 76 percent of Americans support raising the minimum wage above $9 per hour, including 58 percent of Republicans.

I can’t imagine any legislator is interested in raising the minimum wage for their own benefit. Raising the minimum wage would help over 350,000 Minnesotans and allow more working people to make ends meet without needing public assistance. Putting more money in workers’ pockets will improve the local economy and quality of life for Willmar residents. It’s the right thing to do.

Bruce Iverson