With six years of fast food experience, Dakota Owen is still making minimum wage. Right now she stacks sandwiches at Beef-a-roo for $6.50 an hour. But not for long. Come July first, she'll make a dollar more when the minimum wage increase takes effect. A payday Owen says is long-awaited.
"Cause I'm a single mom and I make minimum wage and go to school and stuff so it's pretty hard to raise a kid on your own," Owen says.
Beef-a-roo owners say they pay students and rookie workers minimum wage. Everyone else gets about 9-dollars an hour. And even though just a handful of their 4-hundred employees make $6.50, owners say it's enough to make menus noticeably higher.
"Whether it's fuel costs that increase or minimum wage, but at some point it does effect how prices are made," says Beef-a-roo part-owner Melissa Seeling.
Something Owen says is only fair, because like many of us, she wants more money for her daughter.
"To be able to do things cause every thing is going up and prices so with more money you'll be able to do more things," she says.
So between taking classes at Rockford Business College and working nearly 30-hours a week, Owen will reap the true benefits of earning $7.50 an hour.
Minimum wage is expected to go up an additional 25 cents for the next three years. So by July of 2010, minimum wage will be eight and a quarter. About 650-thousand Illinois workers are making minimum wage.