Idaho leads the nation in the percentage of minimum wage workers, and Larry Kenck, the new chairman from Post Falls for the Idaho Democratic Party, said the GOP policies do very little to encourage high-paying businesses to relocate or stay in Idaho.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, Idaho leads the nation with 7.7 percent of employees working at minimum wage, increasing 63.2 percent since 2011.
An Idaho minimum-wage employee works for $7.25 per hour. At part-time, these workers earn approximately $7,540 per year and $15,080 full time.
In President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech, he proposed slowly raising the federal minimum wage to $9 per hour by 2015.
Kate Thomson, an employee at a Boise fast food restaurant, said she finds it hard to make ends meet with a part-time, minimum-wage job.
“Working where I do, no one is allowed to even have more than 40 hours per week,” Thomson said.
Thomson said at her restaurant, employees aren’t allowed to work full time, and even get in trouble if they go past the limit of 40 hours per week.
“Since the employees are being paid minimum wage, they don’t bother to train the employees very well,” Thomson said. “I was only taught the very basics on how to do things and was expected to learn everything else as I went along.”
Kenck said while Idaho leads the nation in minimum wage workers, it is at the absolute bottom of the nation in state investment in education.
According to the National Education Association, Idaho spends $9,055 per student, making it 47th in the nation in the Fall 2011-12 rankings.
Kenck said legislators cut $35.7 million to wealthy Idahoans, even though education budgets still remain far below pre-recession levels.
“We need responsible leadership in our state,” Kenck said. “We as citizens must hold our state elected leaders accountable for the terrible priorities that put workers and education –and ultimately, businesses — last.”
Emily Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org