Tenn. has highest number of minimum wage workers - WKRN News 2

Tenn. has highest number of minimum wage workers


New numbers reveal Tennessee is first in the nation in an employment category, but it's nothing to be flattered about.

By percentage, Tennessee has the highest number of workers making minimum wage or less.

With the state's work force around 1.6 million people, nearly 120,000 people, or 7.4%, earn minimum wage or less.

"Real wages has not risen as inflation and there's a larger gap between the rich and poor in this state than just about any state in the union and I felt like it's time to raise it," Rep. Mike Turner House Democratic Caucus chairman said.

Currently, the Volunteer State is just a handful of states that do not have a state mandated minimum wage, causing it to default to the federal standard of $7.25 per hour.

Turner told News 2 he wanted to raise the amount to $8.25, but the proposal was voted down along party lines 3-2.

"We talked about doing it here. [It was only] a dollar [increase] and I don't think that's a tipping point for anybody," he said.

Despite initially failing, Turner said he believes the increase will occur in the future.

"It gets more popular every year and with both Democrats and Republicans out there across this state and Independents who believe it's time to raise the minimum," he said. "It will happen at some point. [The] sooner], the better.

Those who oppose a minimum wage hike say they're concerned it would increase unemployment.

In both Alabama and Arkansas, 6.8% earn minimum wage or less.

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