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Miss. House Minority Leader: People shouldn’t be blamed for taking advantage of extra fed. benefits

Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, Democratic leader of the House and flanked by party lawmakers...
Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, Democratic leader of the House and flanked by party lawmakers and members of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus, says the state flag does not unify Mississippi, and calls on the Legislature to vote for a new flag this session, during a news conference in front of the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)(Rogelio V. Solis | AP)
Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 4:00 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Mississippi House Minority Leader is calling for the state to raise the minimum wage.

This comes one day after Gov. Tate Reeves revealed plans to end the additional federal unemployment benefits in June.

House Minority Leader Rep. Robert Johnson seems to be echoing the same sentiment as other Democratic state representatives, including Chris Bell and Jeramey Anderson, who called for a minimum wage increase Monday afternoon.

“Unemployment benefits are not the problem—our failure to address low wages in our state is the real issue,” Anderson tweeted.

Following in their footsteps, House Minority Leader Johnson stated Tuesday that Mississippi should raise the minimum wage first before ending the pandemic unemployment stipend.

Mississippians who are currently unemployed are receiving up to $235 weekly, plus an additional $300 from the federal government - which will come to an end in Mississippi next month.

Many business owners have blamed this extra $300 being received by the unemployed as an incentive not to return to the work force as many employers are finding it hard to find workers.

According to Andy Nesenson, the general manager at The Iron Horse Grill in Jackson, the end of the additional federal unemployment benefits will “get people back applying for jobs.”

Johnson said that people should not be blamed for taking advantage of the opportunity to earn the extra $300 because citizens have been working and living “in poverty” due to the state’s minimum wage of $7.25.

“Cutting the benefits off without taking other steps could harm people who are legitimately unemployed,” Johnson also wrote before saying that other states have increased their minimum wage to $15.

He then says that if Mississippi were to increase the minimum wage to $9 or $10, it would help low-wage workers and boost the economy.

Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Tyree Irving also released a statement Tuesday calling for the state to increase the minimum wage.

This, he said, would be an incentive to boost the number of people seeking employment.

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