State leaders are debating if South Carolina should increase its minimum wage.
Some people, Brandon Johnson, says they should. He works as a shift manager at the Florence Checkers, just one of many fast food restaurants in town. He says his employees deserve more than what minimum wage offers.
“We work hard, so everybody deserves to get the right pay,” Johnson. That “right pay” would mean increasing the minimum wage, he says.
Minimum wage stands $7.25 an hour here in South Carolina. Some state lawmakers want to see it jump to $8.25; some members of Congress want to increase it to $10.10 an hour and peg it to inflation.
Small business owners say they won't be able to afford that kind of increase.
“Probably wouldn't give them as many hours, depending on the minimum wage,” says Danny Chandler, a small business owner.
Chandler says increasing the minimum wage would hurt small businesses.
But some say the minimum wage is just not enough to live on, forcing some people to be dependent on the government, including some of Brandon's workers.
“I know if [my employees] got kids, they're on food stamps.”
Checkers employees aren't alone. American fast food workers receive more than $7 billion annually in benefits, according to a 2013 study by Berkeley's Labor Center.
“If they want to stay up and want to run a business, then they should run the business the right way,” Brandon says.
Until the minimum wage does increase, it appears tax dollars will continue to subsidize some industries.