Obama to highlight minimum wage increase in Minnesota visit

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President Barack Obama is planning to visit Minnesota Thursday in part to show support for the state's action to increase the minimum wage, the Associated Press reports.

Minnesota's minimum wage will rise from the current $6.15 per hour to $9.50 per hour by 2016, under a law passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Mark Dayton in April. The higher wage will be phased in over the next two years, with the first increase taking effect on Aug. 1.

"A very important pillar of the foundation for a viable sustainable economy is having a living wage," White House adviser Valerie Jarrett told reporters during a Friday roundtable, according to the Star Tribune. "We are extraordinarily supportive (of Minnesota) which is part of the reason why we're going there next week."

The visit is another step in the president's campaign to increase the nation's minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, a move that has met resistance from Republicans in Congress.

This isn't the first time Obama has called attention to Minnesota on the issue. During his State of the Union address in January, the president praised John Serrano, the owner of Punch Pizza in Minneapolis, for voluntarily raising the minimum wage for all his employees to $10 per hour, and Obama urged other businesses to do the same even if the law doesn't require it.

Obama is already scheduled to headline a private fundraiser Thursday at the Minneapolis home of Samuel Kaplan, his former U.S. ambassador to Morocco. The event is billed as a fundraiser for the House Democratic Campaign Committee, according to the Associated Press.

Although the White House has not yet announced plans for the president to appear at a public event, local Democratic party officials expect at least one such event will be added to Obama's schedule, according to the Star Tribune.

The last time President Obama visited Minnesota was in February, when he talked about transportation issues in a speech at St. Paul's Union Depot.

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