Discussion about minimum wage increase causes controversy

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KALISPELL, Mont. - The fight in Washington continues over whether to increase minimum wage in the United States from $7.25 an hour to $10.10.

Democrats in the nation's capitol say raising the federal minimum wage would help bring people out of poverty. But business owner Mark Guest says it would leave more people out of a job.

"Can't just bump our prices up and change our prices like a service business can, a restaurant can, we can't," said Mark Guest.

Guest owns the Athlete's Foot in downtown Kalispell. He says a minimum wage increase will have a direct affect on his business.

"What more than likely would happen is I would have to work more hours and those are hours that I would normally give employees," said Guest.

"It's a job killer but not a significant job killer," said Gregg Davis, who teaches economics at Flathead Valley Community College.

He says there's no doubt a jump in the minimum wage will affect businesses but he says the impact isn't as big as people think, and it will affect different businesses differently

"Minimum wage is a one size fits all policy and it doesn't apply everywhere. Eastern Montana, if you go to Sidney, I doubt that minimum wage even means anything. These people can't pay minimum wage to anybody," said Davis.

Guest says he isn't waiting to find out.

"I've contacted our Senators, our State Representatives, you know, just to let them know that there's another side to it," said Guest.

In January Montana's unemployment rate was holding steady at 5.2 percent.