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El Pasoans mixed on raising federal minimum wage
By: Ruben Veloz
EL PASO, Texas-- Democrats in Congress are exploring options to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, which could happen by the year 2016 if Congress passes the resolution this year.
A report by the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan group whose view often determine the outcome of legislation, estimates it will help 16.5 million Americans, but it could cost hundreds and thousands Americans their jobs.
Some low wage workers in El Paso make at least $7.25 an hour, the same minimum wage standards set by the U.S. government.
"After I lost my job that's when everything went downhill, said west El Paso resident David McFadden.
McFadden tells KFOX14 he joined the Army because he could no longer afford to live on minimum wage.
He worked at Walmart for several years and was swayed to join the armed forces when he couldn't find a better paying job, but if he had, he says things would be different.
"I probably wouldn't have joined the military, and I know several other people wouldn't have joined the military, because they would have the option to go to college, said McFadden.
For some people in the borderland, living on minimum wage is a daily struggle. Some don't make enough to support their families, and can't seem to find jobs that pay more.
"It's not enough, you're always coming up short for the things you need, said Sunland Park resident Alberto Saenz, who worked at the Taco Bell in west El Paso.
According to the CBO, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would lift 900,000 people out of poverty, but some are skeptical it will work.
"I don't support it because a lot of people, they would be jobless I mean, said west El Paso resident Elkala Rotch
The CBOs analysis shows raising the minimum wage could also mean losing 500,000 jobs across the country.
Businesses would face higher labor costs, and be forced to get rid of some of their employees, but supporters aren't worried at all, saying the benefits will eventually outweigh the risk by helping people spend more.
"Right now people are on the welfare system because they can't afford their living so if you're making minimum wage, even if two people are making minimum wage they can't support themselves, said McFadden.
Another option Congress is exploring is to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour.
If approved, the hike would come by 2015 without inflation and would not be tied in to the consumer price index.
The second proposal would also come with less of a job risk.
To read the full reports go to this link http://cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/44995-MinimumWage.pdf.