Virginia lawmakers consider increase in minimum wage

Virginia lawmakers consider increase in minimum wage
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7)-- Different versions of the minimum wage legislation are expected to advance in the House of Delegates and the State Senate.

Both would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, over the next four to five years.

Joyce Waugh is President and CEO of the Roanoke Regional Chamber.

"It's going to be harmful to our region and to area businesses," she told WDBJ7 Tuesday morning.

Concern is high among employers, she said. And in a tight job market, she argued, few employees are actually working for minimum wage.

"People cannot get the talent that they need for that, so they 're not paying seven and a quarter, they're paying eight, nine, ten dollars an hour, some of them even significantly higher."

Supporters say their research confirms that increases in the minimum wage haven't led to significant job loss, but would help working families who fall below the poverty line make ends meet.

Jennie Waering is a member of Central Church of the Brethren. She's active in the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy and supports an increase in the minimum wage.

"I think it's an everyday problem in every community in Virginia," she said. "And it's the morally and ethically correct thing to do to raise the minimum wage."

The bills are expected to clear House and Senate committees this week, And we could see a vote in each chamber between now and the middle of next week.

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