Next Up: The Minimum Wage?

Kristen Lopez Eastlick at the The Examiner is wondering whether a proposed minimum wage increase in Alaska will provide another opportunity for Governor Palin to demonstrate her conservative credentials.

This issue hasn’t really been on the radar. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported on the issue early last month, as well as reactions from across the state:

The committee took testimony for and against the bill from across the state. A laundry owner in Juneau said he may cull positions, weighing customer service against expense, if he has to pay a higher minimum wage. A bar owner in Nikiski said she’s barely skimming by right now, contending with fuel surcharges for products. An increase to the minimum wage would be a real strain, she said.

On the other hand, the committee received a hefty packet of written statements supporting the increase, and heard from several callers who advocated a better wage as the costs of living keep climbing.

The National Federation of Independent Business has staked out a position against the proposed increase. In her Examiner op-ed, Eastlick points out that minimum wage increases usually hurt the least-skilled workers the most:

The evidence is clear for Palin to see: Last year, unemployment rose 25% faster in states that indexed their minimum wage than in states that did not. That 25% difference, applied nationwide, could mean the loss of up to 1 million additional full-time employees, concentrated among the least skilled in society.

I have not been able to find that Governor Palin has yet articulated a position on the minimum wage. The only interview I could locate in which the issue was raised was a joint McCain/Palin interview with Maria Bartiromo – and, frustratingly, the question was answered by McCain.

The Alaskan bill is still working its way through the wickets. In the Senate, SB1 has cleared the Labor & Commerce Committee but remains in the Finance Committee. The equivalent House bill, HB29, remains in both committees.

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