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Businesses Divided over Impact of Higher Minimum Wage

The Senate agreed Thursday to increase the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour after a heated debate about its potential impact on the economy. The NewsHour reports on the minimum wage gap between Idaho and neighboring Washington state.

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  • LEE HOCHBERG, NewsHour Correspondent:

    When you cross the border on Interstate 90 from Idaho into Washington state, you move from a state with the lowest minimum wage in the country to one with the highest: $7.93 per hour, after a recent 30-cent raise.

    Have the higher wages in Washington hurt businesses on that side of the border? Not at Papa Murphy's. Business is booming, and profits are steady at the restaurant in Liberty Lake, Wash., two miles from the border. Manager Tom Singleton.

  • TOM SINGLETON, Restaurant Manager:

    I've got 14 employees, and they're all making — well, they start out at $7.93 an hour, some make more, depending. And in the last three years, we haven't raised any prices.

  • LEE HOCHBERG:

    Haven't had to fire anybody?

  • TOM SINGLETON:

    Haven't had to fire anybody, lay anybody off or nothing.

  • LEE HOCHBERG:

    Because Idaho is one of 21 states that has never raised its minimum beyond the $5.15 federal rate, half of these Papa Murphy's employees, like 18-year-old Nichole Booth, come across the border from Idaho for the higher wage.

  • NICHOLE BOOTH, Employee:

    When you, like, think about it in hundreds of dollars, like, that's more. That's like three more gas tanks full of gas or, you know, like — it's worth it.