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Group Pushes To Increase Minimum Wage

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- If wages go up, will the number of jobs go down?  That's what business people say about an effort to raise Maryland's minimum wage.

Suzanne Collins explains labor and religious leaders are asking for a change in that law.

Kitchen workers often make minimum wage.  So do housekeepers and store clerks.  That's $7.25 an hour, but a bill in Annapolis would raise it to $8.25 this year, to $9.10 next year and in 2013 to $10 an hour.

"We believe a job should keep people out of poverty, not in it," said Rev. Ken Brooker-Langston.

A plant farm owner joined religious and labor leaders to support paying workers more.

"I can count on those employees to look after the quality of products we make," said John Shelply.

The Maryland Chamber of Commerce says if employers have to increase wages, where would that money come from?  They believe employers would cut back on benefits instead.

The Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce foresees other negative effects.

"Because they have to pay more, the prices of the actual products are going to have to go up," said Keith Scott.

One construction worker says hard work results in raises.

"You gotta get in there and work hard and, of course, learn quick.  You'll move up the scale," said Danny Jameson.

But surviving on what equals $15,000 a year can be tough.

"When I moved to Baltimore, I didn't get a lot of help from my parents and a lot of kids don't get that either, so trying to live on minimum wage is very difficult," said Zara Cadoux.

It's hard to say if pay will be raised by lawmakers in an economic slump.

The group supporting an increase in minimum wage says waitresses and waiters should also get a raise.

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