Coeur d'Alene group looks to raise city's minimum wage - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Coeur d'Alene group looks to raise city's minimum wage

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The minimum wage is now $7.25 in Coeur d'Alene. The minimum wage is now $7.25 in Coeur d'Alene.
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -

With one of the lowest minimum wages in the country, one Coeur d'Alene group is looking to change that for the Lake City. The group, Raise Idaho, is looking to raise the minimum wage to $8.75 by the start of 2016 and to $10.25 the year after that. Currently, Idaho's minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, that's compared to Washington's minimum wage, which is $9.47 and expected to continue climbing.

"We need to stay competitive in a job market sense," says Brett Sommer, owner of Figpickles Toy Emporium in downtown Coeur d'Alene.

Sommers sees the issue as a double edged sword, telling KHQ it's both good and bad for business to pay their employees more. It's something they do anyway by paying employees who have been with them for more than six months more than $10.00 an hour.

"It's tough on small businesses," says Sommers. "Especially businesses that are struggling."

The struggle for small businesses is a viewpoint shared by Lisa Johnson, a single mother of two who spent her afternoon applying for jobs that the Idaho Department of Labor. Johnson has two degrees, one in teaching and the other in therapy. She works with kids who have disabilities and while she isn't making the minimum, she says the $10.00 an hour she is making is just enough to get her from paycheck to paycheck.

"I'm in that weird place where I make too much to get state assistance but I'm not making enough to get ends meet and it gets really tough," says Johnson.

She says some businesses can't afford to make that big of a pay jump, but people working those jobs can't afford to work for so little.

"Coming from a family standpoint it would be probably essential to have those raised," says Johnson.

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