Low Wage and Service Worker Task Force hears first testimony

By Frank Gerace 12:41am, August 28, 2014 - Updated 5:07pm, August 28, 2014
The state's 14-member Low-Wage and Service Worker task force met at the Chase Center Wednesday, and one topic of discussion was whether Delaware's minimum wage should be higher.

WDEL's Frank Gerace reports.

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State Senator Bobby Marshall, a Wilmington Democrat who co-chairs the panel, tells WDEL News municipalities and states elsewhere in the US have raised their minimum wages.

"And we're now beginning to define a new term, living wages, where all workers can share in more of America's opportunity--higher incomes--and then eventually, all their earnings go back into the economy," said Marshall.

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Delaware's minimum wage went from $7.25 to $7.75 an hour June first, and will be raised to$8.25 next June first--a dollar higher that the current federal minimum.

Rachel West with the Center for American Progress tells WDEL News she told task force members at the Chase Center raising the wage would cut taxpayer expenditures for programs like Medicaid and food stamps.

"Workers who are working full-time and year-round receive public assistance, and when we raise their family income by increasing the minimum wage, we actually reduce their reliance upon such programs."

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West says recent research backs that claim, but wage-hike opponents say a higher wage would cost jobs by lowering employers' profit margins.

State lawmakers set up the task force two months ago--it's due to make recommendations to the General Assembly and Governor Markell October 31.

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