East TN experts address some offerings in State of the Union

6:05 PM, Feb 13, 2013   |    comments
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President Obama delivers his 2012 State of the Union Address at the Capitol.(Photo: Evan Vucci, AP)

Millions of people watched President Barack Obama's State of the Union address unfold on the social media website, Twitter. The most "tweeted" topic of the speech was when the president called on Congress to raise the national minimum wage to nine dollars per hour. People were posting about that topic at 24,000 "tweets" per minute.

Tuesday night, President Obama said raising the minimum wage would raise incomes for millions of people.

"It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead. For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets. And a whole lot of folks out there would probably need less help from government," President Obama said.

While this move could mean a boost for workers, a UT economist I spoke with says the burden of paying for the increase would be widespread.

"Some workers who are currently earning the minimum wage would get a pay raise, and for those workers, life is good. Others who are on the margin, might lose their job or might not be able to get a job. It's just hard to predict at this point. I think that the impact would be significant, and it wouldn't necessarily be all positive. There would be some winners and some losers," Dr. Don Bruce said.

President Obama also touched on continuing efforts to make college more affordable in the State of the Union address. He asked Congress to change the "Higher Education Act so colleges get some federal aid based on the school's affordability. On Wednesday, the White House released a new "College Score Card" to help future students search for the best value.

Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said UT stacks up well, "If you look at the value of our education here, and look at what the students pay, we're an extremely good value, very high quality. A lot of people talk about debt. Only 48% of our students graduate with debt."

Dr. Cheek went on to say, of those UT graduates who have debt, the average is less than $20,000 dollars per year.

Click here to access President Obama's "College Score Card".

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