LYNCHBURG, Va. – Virginia lawmakers continue to debate the decision to raise the minimum wage. On Monday, the House of Delegates advanced a bill that would freeze it at the current level.
Democrats say the state should deliver on the promise of a living wage for workers at the bottom of the pay scale, especially since the minimum wage hasn’t kept up with rising prices.
Republicans argue the increase is bad for businesses and workers who need a job.
However, local economists say, it doesn’t matter much either way. Employers are going to continue to pay above minimum wage because of the labor shortage.
“It’s very difficult to find work, so they’re having to increase the wage even above minimum wage,” Economics Professor at the University of Lynchburg Gerald Prante says. “That’s what’s fueling inflation. A minimum wage increase is probably not even going to make that much of a difference as it would in normal times.”
Minimum wage is at $11 an hour and will eventually reach $15 an hour if lawmakers uphold the legislation in 2024.