- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A new study says about 34,000 South Dakota workers would be in line for pay raises if voters next month approve an increase in the minimum wage.

The study released this week by the South Dakota Budget and Policy Institute concludes that another 28,000 workers who make slightly more than the $7.25-an-hour federal minimum wage - in the range of $8.50 to $9.75 an hour - might be in line for pay increases as employers adjust wage scales, the Argus Leader newspaper reported (https://argusne.ws/1DZhHnf ).

Initiated Measure 18 on the November general election ballot would raise the state minimum wage from the federal level to $8.50 an hour.

The South Dakota Budget and Policy Institute, a nonpartisan nonprofit corporation, relied on data from the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank that advocates for raising the federal minimum wage.

“What (the study) can help you do is sort out some of the talking points that may be exaggerated from one perspective or another,” said Joy Smolnisky, the institute’s executive director.

Opponents of raising the state’s minimum wage say the proposal uses a national inflationary gauge that doesn’t necessarily reflect economic conditions in the Midwest.

An increase in the minimum wage would force businesses to increase prices, lay off workers or reduce benefits, South Dakota Retailers Association Executive Director Shawn Lyons said.

The minimum wage typically is only a starting wage, and with the state’s low unemployment rate, a competition for labor translates to higher wages, according to Lyons.

“The competition for labor has never been greater than it is now,” he said.

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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