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Minnesota's poorest workers to get $436 more this year

McDonald's is a fine place to get cheap coffee or meat with a mysterious past, but an even better place to protest for higher wages.

McDonald's is a fine place to get cheap coffee or meat with a mysterious past, but an even better place to protest for higher wages. David Joles, Star Tribune

Minnesota's minimum wage ticked up this week, meaning impoverished employees can expect two dimes and one penny more per 60 minutes' work.

Congrats, guys. You've earned it!

If you don't work at the minimum wage, you might not be aware of such small shifts in fortune. About 219,000 of us work at the lowest allowable level, WCCO reports, which is now $9.86 for large employers (50 employees and up) and $8.01 for small ones.

Those people are still pretty damn broke, if all they're doing is working one full-time minimum wage job. (Many are doubling- and tripling-up, and, if they've got kids or a significant other, aren't around a lot to see them.) This year, they'll be receiving all of $436.80 a year, a windfall which could be used on, say, a round-trip ticket to Mexico City... so long as you buy your ticket on the cheap, and don't plan on leaving the airport.

A 40-hour work week at $9.86 adds up to less than $21,000 a year. As WCCO points out, that's less than the lowest-paid Americans received back in 1970, which may or may not be the kind of year people have in mind when they talking about Having Us Great Once More. 

The progressives are at it again, with some already rattling the change in their pockets about boosting poor peoples' pay once more. This time, their target's a $15 minimum, the same number that's slowly going into effect in Minneapolis and St. Paul, not to mention a fleet of other first-class cities throughout the country.

It's those cities the young professional class is flocking to. States that suppress wages, less so. Ask yourself the last time you heard of someone moving from Minneapolis to Grand Forks or Ames without a college or an attractive person involved.

Minnesota's net migration flow is just about even, per one study out this week: roughly 3,000 in and 3,000 out each year, and the people moving out at the fastest rate are 65-and-up, past working age. They're worried about Social Security taxes, writes MPR's Bob Collins. Fine. Let them do that in Florida.

The young families moving in are worried about finding an apartment or house, finding a bus or bike lane, and finding a job. So far, so good: Despite warnings of an increased minimum wage causing an economic collapse, Minnesota's economy is trotting right along, leaving certain Neighboring States with Conservative Laws in our wake.

Would a $15 statewide minimum wage tank Minnesota's economy? Who knows? Probably not. But we know one thing for sure: When the topic comes up at the Capitol this month or next, conservative lawmakers will eagerly hold the door open for right-wing "economists." They'll greet these "experts" with a handshake and a grin, and ask, "May I take your coat, Mr. [Fill in the blank, these types are often indistinguishable]." 

Then those lawmakers and their math whiz friends will express "concern" about the "unforseen consequences" of doing something "extreme," like paying the working poor more than they currently take home.

The arguments will sound familiar to anyone who paid attention when this state went through the same debate in 2014. The warnings will be identical; hypotheticals will echo; the math on either side will be the same formulas, only with different sums.

And reader, do you know what happened the last time Minnesota was warned against raising its minimum wage, but did it anyway? It thrived.