After much debate and even more delay, the minimum amount for workers to be paid has risen 70 cents to $7.25 an hour.

According to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, between 3 million and 5 million people will be affected by the minimum wage rise from $6.55 per hour to $7.25 per hour. Those workers in the 30 states and industries covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act are entitled to the new wage.

Proponents for the wage increase argue that the extra cash – which amounts to about $120 per month – is long overdue.

The New York Times quotes Anthony Tsang Yee, president, Eng & Yee Designs, Inc., Manhattan, arguing: “The general public and specifically those on the lowest rung of the work day pay deserve a living wage for their efforts. All politicians, all corporations, all enterprises that hire illegal aliens have too long exacerbated this situation for decades now. It is high time that this situation be remedied.”

Critics, however, question the timing.

Conservative economists are worried that the government-mandated raise will force small businesses to lay off workers. Liberal economists counter that summer is the perfect time for a wage hike because it will provide additional disposable income to those who need it most.

NPR reports that Kai Filion, a policy analyst for the Economic Policy Institute, says this wage hike will generate $5.5 billion in consumer spending over the next 12 months.

The Labor Department's Solis expects the financial impact on businesses to be minimal, though.

With so many workers currently taking pay cuts in order to keep their jobs, is a minimum wage increase at this time wise? Will this place too much of a strain on small business owners or have lower paid workers gone long enough with their paltry wages?

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