Nevadans react to minimum wage increase

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RENO, NV (KOLO) - Catana Barnes, a single mother who has lived in Northern Nevada for 21 years, is one of many who is struggling to keep up with our growing economy.

Three bills have been signed by Governor Sisolak with hopes to better the lives of Nevadans.

With high living costs and our current minimum wage sitting at $7.25, many are working paycheck to paycheck trying to survive.

Assembly Bill 456 raises the minimum wage in Nevada by 75 cents each year beginning January 1, 2020 until it reaches $12 an hour, but for Barnes this is just a small step closer to solving a much larger problem.

“The lowest point was when we almost lost our home and it was before my divorce, but we were having to sell every single thing we own just to try to pay rent."

With three college degrees and specialized training, for Barnes those accomplishments have not translated into a higher paying job. She says Most of them are paying close to minimum wage. The new assembly bill that was signed this month raised the wage, but Barnes says it’s not enough.

"It was an important step, but I definitely think we need to go a little higher than that; as a base we need to be able to have a livable wage as the minimum wage. It needs to start at about 15."

Barnes and her son have full-time jobs while facing many serious and costly medical conditions, making it very difficult for them to survive.

Denise Lopez with Faith in Action Nevada says raising the wage and investing in affordable housing will help but more needs to be done.

“There are over 200,000 families that are paying rent and they are using a lot of their income to pay for rent, so these bills are a great start. It is not going to solve the crisis we are having in Nevada."

Catana Barnes says the hardest part is watching her family suffer as a result of our growing economy.

"Not being able to see my children prosper more than I have ever been able to is frustrating because that is the goal of pretty much any parent that I am aware of."

Barnes and Lopez hope the legislature continues stepping in what they see as the right direction, making it easier to call the Silver State home.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2019