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The share of Idaho workers earning minimum wage has grown from 5 percent in 2011 to 7.7 percent in 2012. The growth has put Idaho in the top spot for the largest share of minimum wage workers in the country. How did that happen? And what’s being done to reverse the trend?

Idaho Congressmen Russ Fulcher, Mike Simpson Vote Against Minimum Wage Hike


The U.S. House Thursday passed a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Republicans have vowed to block it in the Senate, but Idaho voters might get to weigh in on the issue next fall.

Nearly every Republican – including Idaho congressmen Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson – voted against the minimum wage hike in the Democratically-controlled House.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s not going to take up the issue.

Rod Couch co-founded the group, Idahoans For A Fair Wage. In a recent interview on Idaho Matters, he says he’s trying to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by getting the issue on the ballot.

“People stuck at the same wage – especially our lower wage earners – are really struggling trying to make ends meet. I’ve talked to so many young people who feel their future is bleak,” Couch said.

A recent report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found raising the national minimum wage to $12 an hour, like Couch’s proposal, would increase wages for up to 11 million people.

But it could also cause 300,000 people to lose their jobs.

Under the $15 an hour figure passed by the U.S. House, up to 27 million people could earn higher wages, though 3.7 million people could be laid off.

Couch’s group has until next summer to gather roughly 55,000 signatures to put the issue to a vote.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!

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