These days Deb Hardoby often feels like she's working to keep up two households.

"I'm paying bills at my house and for my son's apartment," she said.

Her son, John, a college sophomore in Philadelphia, doesn't earn enough at his part-time job to manage expenses.

He's a minimum wage worker at a sandwich shop and earns "just enough to keep himself fed and put gas in his car," said Hardoby, a 46-year-old York Township resident.

She's in favor of President Barack Obama's plan to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour. Though it's less than his 2008 proposal of $9.50 an hour, Hardoby said "every little bit will help."

"I'm not one of those parents who hands everything to her kid, but I want him to focus on school right now. The hope is he'll graduate and get a job that will cover his expenses," she said.

The proposal: The current minimum wage isn't a livable wage, according to Obama. If a person worked full-time at minimum wage, he or she would earn $14,500 a year, he said.

"Even with the tax relief we've put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That's wrong," Obama said during his State of the Union address Tuesday. "Let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty."

His plan would raise minimum wage in stages to $9 an hour by the end of 2015, and it would be adjusted to inflation thereafter.

Reaction: "Raising the minimum wage would be a big help

to someone like me," said Dolores Amprim, a 54-year-old Dallastown resident.

She said she loves her job as a home-health aide to the elderly, but minimum wage isn't enough to cover her expenses.

"It's a good thing my husband has a good job because we'd never make it on my paycheck," Amprim said.

But it's unclear if she and other minimum-wage workers will get a federally mandated raise anytime soon.

Since Obama's Tuesday night address, House and Senate Republicans have spoken out in opposition to the proposal.

The York County business community has also said wage increases are best left to the natural cycles of the marketplace.

"I don't think there's a living soul who wouldn't want someone who's making $7.25 an hour to start making $9 an hour or even $15 an hour," said Bob Jensenius, executive vice president of the York County Economic Alliance. "But the real way to do that is to grow the economy."

A robust economy will drive wages higher than artificially set wages, he said.

"It's always better if it's done by the free market," Jensenius said. "What we need to focus on is creating jobs, creating the demand for jobs, and the free marketplace will drive up wages way beyond the $9 an hour."

The county also needs trained, skilled workers so they can make a lot more than $9 an hour, he said.

Local businesses: At Brown's Orchards & Farm Market in Loganville, the majority of workers are already earning more than minimum wage.

"I don't know if we have a handful of employees, or even one employee, making $7.25 an hour," said Dave Brown, company president.

He said the farm's 50 full-time employees and 140 part-time and seasonal workers are making $8 an hour or more.

But Brown still questioned the timing of the president's proposal.

"From a recovery standpoint, it's the wrong time. We need to get the economy moving again," he said.

But minimum wage does need to be addressed, Brown said.

"With expenses going up, everyone needs extra living expenses," he said. "But right now is poor timing, and I think it could hurt some small businesses."

-- Reach Candy Wood all at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.