Effects of Iowa’s potential minimum wage freeze

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Iowa lawmakers plan to freeze the state’s minimum wage at $7.25 an hour.

WOWT 6 News recently spoke with business owners in Council Bluffs who had different views on the subject.

But the real impact is felt by those who have to live on minimum wage.

Opinions vary on the Iowa minimum wage freeze proposal, and it all depends on where you’re coming from.

Terry Hilt works from home. His office just a few feet from his bed. Hilt works 20 hours a week and lives at New Visions homeless shelter in Council Bluffs. He said keeping his wage at $7.25 an hour is not a good idea.

“(A) person works 40 hours a week at minimum wage, they still have to depend on state subsidies like Medicare, food stamps, stuff like that because their paycheck pays their necessities…rent, utilities…and then what do they do?” he said.

Hilt said he lost a good paying job because of injury. He was an inspector in a machine shop. Since then, he has worked for some temp agencies before living and working at New Horizons.

Hilt has a message for lawmakers considering a freeze on the minimum wage. “Tell them guys out there to come down here try to live on the streets for $7.25 an hour and try to support their families. It’s really rough all the way around,” he said.

Jordan Wallar is the shelter’s director. He hired Hilt and others to help him run the shelter. Wallar said a minimum wage freeze would not allow him to help more people.

“Especially here, if the minimum wage gets raised, we can’t hire on as many people,” he said. “Well, if I can’t hire people to help me. I can’t effect change in people’s lives.

Wallar deals with the homeless every day and he believes it’s the overall issue of poverty that Iowa lawmakers should be dealing with .
“Raising of the minimum wage isn’t going to fix the problem,” he said. “They will immediately go back into poverty once the prices start going up, so I don’t think we have an issue of pay right now. I think we have a poverty issue and we need a different angle to attack that poverty issue.”

If the minimum wage freeze proposal becomes law, it would also roll back wages in four Iowa counties that have already set their own higher minimum wage limits.