Relief for Workers at Bottom: Minimum Wage Goes Up

"I've got to eliminate and be more conservative about these part-time employees," he said. "I have to. I have to have something left in the bottom line. It's just creating a terrible problem."

Some prices will have to be raised to pay for the salaries. He will also start closing the store an hour earlier, at 7 p.m., to save an hour's worth of wages. Some workers will have their hours cut and when some return to college in the fall, he probably won't fill their spots.

Higher wages will keep a lot of people from going out and making expansions to their businesses, Stewart said.

"The wisdom is not there that we need to keep our country rolling," he said. "One of the reasons that cost of living is up is because wages keep getting raised."

For Lee Caballero, the general manager at Vera Cruz Restaurant in Victoria, Texas, the minimum wage hike also means change, even those of his workers are paid anywhere from 50 cents to $6 above the minimum.

"I haven't paid minimum wage in years," said Caballero, who has managed the restaurant for 16 years. "Now that it's going up, it's going to be hard to keep everyone above minimum wage."

Caballero expects his longest-working and best employees who currently make much higher than the hourly minimum will want a raise. That means the item prices on the restaurant's menus will have to increase by 5 to 7 percent, he said.

"I knew it was coming sooner or later," he said. "But it's here so I gotta live with it and make adjustments."

Still, advocates for the country's lowest earners say the hike isn't enough.

"Even with the raise to $7.25, the minimum wage is a poverty wage rather than an anti-poverty wage," said Holly Sklar, senior policy adviser, with the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign. "The minimum wage sets the wage floor. We can't build a strong economy on poverty wages."

Workers in Michigan, one of the states hardest hit by the recession, might soon get some relief there.

The state's Democratic party is seeking to put a question on the 2010 ballot to raise the minimum wage there from $7.40 an hour to $10. It would be paired with other ballot questions to increase unemployment benefits by $100 a week, extend benefits by six months and impose a one-year moratorium on home foreclosures.

With reports from ABC News' Nathalie Tadena

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