Workers who make minimum wage in Rhode Island will be seeing their pay increase to 8 dollars per hour on New Year's Day. While that represents a 25–cent per hour increase, store owners hope it will help their workers and boost the economy.
"By making more, they will have more disposable income; therefore they will be able to buy more things. Maybe something they put of doing in their home, repairing painting etcetera, they will do now," said Jeff Salk, owner of Salk's Ace Hardware in North Kingston and Warwick.
At eight dollars per hour, Rhode Island is now even with Massachusetts. But the minimum wage in Connecticut goes up to $8.70 per hour on New Year's Day.
ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "Many minimum wage workers are also under the financial pressure of having to buy health insurance under Obamacare for the first time."
While some small businesses like this hardware store offer employees health insurance, other workers are not so lucky. They believe the minimum wage needs to go even higher.
"The prices of everything is going up, the living costs. Food, everything, the prices are rising so I mean, we need to be paid more so that we can survive," said Kat Godfrey of Barrington.
"Well it's not enough, but it's an improvement. The way the economy is today, jobs are tough. People are having a tough time surviving," said Steven Harvey of North Providence.
States such as Rhode Island have been raising the minimum wage, because the federal government has not done so in almost five years.