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Charlotte Area

Unemployment and minimum wage both rise

http://66.225.205.104/JR20090724b.mp3

Unemployment rose again in June for the Charlotte area. Nearly 12.5 percent of workers are now out of a job in the region. One of Wells Fargo's top economists says a change in the minimum wage could make the unemployment situation worse. WFAE's Julie Rose reports: Thousands of workers in the Charlotte area got a 70-cent raise today with the federal minimum wage going up to $7.25 an hour. That should help more people make ends meet. But the relief may be short lived, says Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner. "Many of these firms are likely to cut employment or reduce hours because they have a hard time passing these higher costs on to their customers," says Vitner. That's because restaurants and retailers who employ the bulk of minimum wage earners are already struggling in this recession. And despite national signs that the recession may be fading, the Charlotte region's unemployment remains one of the highest in the state, now at 12.4 percent. "All of the areas that have been hit the hardest in this recession tend to be pretty important to the Charlotte area, says Vitner, including manufacturing, financial services, hospitality and trucking.