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Minimum Wage Increases to $7.25

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Federal minimum wage will increase to $7.25 today. Federal minimum wage will increase to $7.25 today.
Unlike other business Oklahoma Goodwill officials said it would not raise its prices or layoff employees in order to afford the minimum wage increase. Unlike other business Oklahoma Goodwill officials said it would not raise its prices or layoff employees in order to afford the minimum wage increase.
Goodwill officials said they plan to fund the pay raises by working to increase the number of donations coming in. Goodwill officials said they plan to fund the pay raises by working to increase the number of donations coming in.

By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Thousands of Oklahoma workers will receive a pay raise on Friday when a new federal minimum wage takes effect.

The increase requires employers to pay at least $7.25 an hour.

James Gay and dozens more like him are working five days a week thanks to Goodwill's janitorial contracts. The entry level positions pay minimum wage and thanks to the Fair Minimum Wage Act, the workers will get more money in their next paycheck. Gay said the raise will be a big help.

"That's my goal is to stop living paycheck to paycheck and to get the stuff I need," said Gay.

But the good news for Gay isn't good news for a lot of businesses because that extra pay comes out of their pockets. Some business owners have been forced to cut back on staff and hours. Other businesses said they plan to hike up the price of products, but Oklahoma Goodwill said it knows how to get around that.

Oklahoma Goodwill CEO Heather Rennebohm said unlike other businesses the organization will not raise its prices nor will it cut jobs. So the company is going with a different plan.

"More volume. We're going to sell more at these prices and we're going to do more contracts," Rennebohm said.

To do this Goodwill is working to increase the number of donations coming in. More donations mean more money, and more money means people like Gay will keep their job.

"You know, we live in a very generous part of the world. We have no doubt that our donations from citizens of Oklahoma City will continue to go up," Rennebohm said.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act, signed into law by President George Bush, raised minimum wage by more than $2 over a three-year period. Friday's hike is the last of three increases provided by the act.

This last increase is estimated to provide a family with a full-time minimum wage earner an extra $120 a month. That is more than a week's worth of groceries for an average family of four or more than one week's utility bills, according to statistics from the labor department.

Employers and employees seeking more compliance information on the increased minimum wage may call the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division's toll-free help line at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).

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