A Higher Minimum Wage: Minimal Damage?

The minimum-wage debate has become numbingly familiar in the 55 years since Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the law that puts a floor under pay. Companies--backed by most economists--say raising the minimum destroys jobs by forcing employers to scale back hiring. Proponents point to people such as Betty J. Hilliard, 44, who sews ladies' underwear in a garment factory in Rocky Mount, N.C. After 19 years there, she still earns the minimum $4.25 an hour. "It's hard to make [ends meet]," says Hilliard. "It's a disgrace."

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