Minimum wage increase in effect

Lawton_The minimum wage will increase tomorrow by 70 cents.  This is the first increase in minimum wage from the federal government in a decade and many argue that it still isn't enough.  The department of labor hasn't specified an exact time the hike actually starts, but says employers should plan on putting it into effect at one minute after midnight tonight.  But, how much does it really affect Lawtonians?

Seven News visited several local businesses to find out how they might be preparing for the wage jump.  Of the 15 businesses Seven News visited, many didn't want to talk or say that they already pay more than the increased amount.  One business owner did talk to us, but, after speaking with a couple of employees, we weren't prepared for what they told us.

Megan Axelson is one of the employees who would talk to us. She has worked at Lawton's "Fins and Critters" since the beginning of the year.  She says she started out at minimum wage but now makes more.  Even so--she has mixed emotions about the hike.   She said, "I was excited but then i started to think about it and everything else might go up so it really won't make much difference so, it will be like how minimum wage is now."

Megan doesn't think that it will necessarily be a good thing because of income taxes.  She feels that she'll end up getting the same amount in the long run.  Amber Baker, outside of Lawton's employment office, says the hike is way overdue.  She said, "Its great knowing that minimum wage is up in Oklahoma."

Finally, a business owner was ready to give us his opinion. Lynn "Fluffy" Mason has been in business for more than 20 years in Lawton. He says all his employees already make more than minimum wage.  He says, "It shouldn't affect any of our employees, however, I do believe there will be a lot of happy employees tomorrow."  Even though Fluffy says it's time for an increase, he predicts we will see prices go up in every area over the next year.

But, Megan is like a lot of us. She's just not sure what it's going to mean.

Now, this is just the first step, legislation was signed by President Bush in May, which increases the wage 70 cents each summer until 2009, when all minimum-wage jobs will pay no less than $7.25 an hour.