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Virginia to consider minimum wage raise; business owners, employees react

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BLUEFIELD, VA (WVVA) -- Virginia is one of 22 states that still pays the federal minimum wage of $7.25 - but that could change in 2020.

Two separate bills (Senate Bill 7, Senate Bill 1017) look to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour over the next 3-5 years.

But that increase worries small business owners who believe a raise in payroll will cause a raise in prices.

"It's the consumer who ends up paying for that, that's business 101," said Mike Dye, co-owner of New Graham Pharmacy.

Dye says most of his business is done through insurance and third parties, so he can't raise his prices. Therefore, raising minimum wage would hit him right in the wallet.

But others don't believe a minimum wage increase always gets passed along to customers.

"Our prices wouldn't go up to increase the match or anything like that," said Eddie Branch, store manager of Smokey's Tobacco Outlet. "I htink alot of the employees would really appreciate it."

"We haven't had a minimum wage increase in 15+ years, and it's getting kind of rough; because [prices] go up regardless," he explained.

But one thing both sides agree on -- something needs to change.

"We can't leave the wages they are, obviously," Dye said. "They do need to go up."

"It's really hard to make a decent living, even working 40+ hours a week," said Branch.

WVVA will continue to track the progress of the minimum wage bills in Virginia's General Assembly for further developments.

Jade Burks

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