Minimum Wage: Too Low? Too High? Just Right?

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President Obama's surprise call for a minimum wage hike during his State of the Union address Tuesday seems to have the entire nation pondering the same question: What should the minimum wage be?

The president wants the federal minimum wage to go from $7.25 to $9 an hour to help lift millions of Americans out of poverty.  Not all economists, however, agree that it will have that effect on the country's economy.  

This week on WNYC's Money Talking, contributors Joe Nocera of the New York Times and Rana Foroohar of Time magazine discuss what an increase could mean for employment, worker productivity, poverty and income inequality in the United States. 

As a map from the U.S. Department of Labor shows, the minimum wage depends on where you live. The city of San Francisco currently has the highest rate in the country: $10.55 an hour. In New York City and state, workers earning the minimum wage make the federal rate of $7.25 an hour.

Several New Yorkers WNYC asked thought the current minimum wage and even the President's proposal were far too low. 

"I think it should be more than $9. Nobody can live on $9. Maybe $12," said Sharon Vassell, an office manager in Manhattan. "That would be a good minimum wage."

Of course, small business owners have a different take because they worry rising wages will hit their bottom line.  

What do you think the minimum wage should be and why? Tell us in the comments section below or tweet us: @MoneyTalking. 

Also in this week's episode, a discussion of the recent spate of high-profile mergers and acquisitions, including the proposed $24 billion buyout of Dell.