Minimum wage increase to have impact on, off campus

Minimum wage increase to have impact on, off campus

by Drew RiebhoffStaff Writer

Beginning April 1, work study students will receive $6.20 per hour as part of a recently passed law to increase minimum wage.

Iowa Governor Chet Culver signed the bill into law Jan. 25 after it passed through the Iowa General Assembly overwhelmingly. The legislation was a priority for the Democratic majority and was the first bill of 2007 to be sent to Culver for his signature.

This increase will be the first time the minimum wage in Iowa has risen in the past 10 years, and according to a press release put out by the governor’s office, it is expected to lift more than 250,000 Iowans out of poverty.

One hundred nineteen members of the general assembly approved the bill, including both the majority and minority leaders in both houses, making it a historic occasion. The bill also received great support from Iowa citizens, and according to a poll taken by 800 adults, 79 percent supported the bill while only 18 percent did not. The remaining 3 percent were undecided.

Sophomore Josie Rundlett looks at the increase from a small-business standpoint.

“A lot of minimum-wage jobs in my hometown aren’t factory jobs,” Rundlett said. “They’re jobs as a sales clerk or a cleaning person, and I don’t see how businesses will be able to keep up with the wage increase.”

Critics of the bill think along the same line and believe this increase will negatively affect some Iowa jobs, especially those people who work for small businesses.

Stephen Hampton, executive officer for the Iowa division of labor, assures there shouldn’t be a big change in employment.

“In past years when an increase in minimum wage did occur, we did not see a change,” he said. “I will be surprised if anything like that does happen.”

The increase in minimum wage will be a two-step process.

“Commencing April 1, the minimum wage will increase to $6.20, and on Jan. 1, 2008, the minimum wage will be $7.25,” Hampton said.

Simpson will take proper steps to ensure work-study students receive the increase.

“We will follow the minimum-wage increase law and implement that according to the required timelines,” said Tracie Pavon, assistant vice-president of enrollment and financial assistance. “Since undergraduate assistants are already paid above the minimum wage, they will not see an increase in their wages.”

For the time being, work-study students don’t need to worry about losing work hours due to the increase.

“Students will continue on with their work-study hours in the current school year,” Pavon said. “Next year we may need to further adjust hours. We will have to wait and see.”

Some students aren’t concerned about losing out if and when work-study hours do change.

“Even though I’ll be working less hours, I’ll be making more per hour, and so either way I’ll end up making the same,” said junior Amy Jo Jacobsen, who works in the equipment room of Cowles.

No matter how things turn out, some students are looking forward to the money.

“I’m just excited to get paid more and make more money,” freshman R.J. Olson said.