Business Owners Back New Year Minimum Wage Hikes in 14 States, Call for Federal Raise

Contact: Bob Keener, 617-610-6766bob@businessforafairminimumwage.org

Washington, DC, December 23, 2015  – Fourteen states are raising their minimum wage next week with strong support from business owners. Business leaders believe these state increases make good business sense and would also like to see Congress raise the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 since 2009, to benefit the economy nationwide.

“Raising the minimum wage is a win/win proposition,” said Dave Titterington, owner of Wild Bird Habitat Stores in Nebraska, where the minimum wage is rising to $9.00. “It will increase worker productivity and provide employees with more dollars to spend and put back into the economy.”

“Raising the minimum wage will help grow the overall economy,” said Andrew Lemley, director of government relations, Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire and other leading brands. Colorado’s minimum wage is increasing on January 1 because unlike the federal minimum wage, it is adjusted annually for the cost of living .

“There is great momentum behind minimum wage raises at the state and local level and strong public support for raising the federal minimum wage, which has less buying power than the minimum wage of 1950 in today’s dollars,” said Holly Sklar, CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. “We need to finally put the $7.25 federal minimum wage in the past where it belongs and assure an adequate wage floor, wherever people live or do business.”

Hari Newmark, co-owner of Newmarket Naturals and Shower Filter Store in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where the minimum wage is increasing because of a ballot measure passed in 2014, said, “We support raising the minimum wage because everybody in this country deserves the right to work hard at a job and make enough money to support themselves and their family without needing financial assistance from our government just to make ends meet.”

California and Massachusetts will be tied for the highest state minimum wage rate in the nation at 10.00, as of January 1. They will take over the top spot from Washington State, which remains at $9.47 even as cities like Seattle increase their minimum wage.

Rick Karp, owner of Cole Hardware in San Francisco, said, “When our workers have more money to live on, our customers have more money to spend. It is a clear win-win!”

“Employees who are well compensated work better and stay longer, a very important contributor to the success of my business,” said Rachael Solem, president and general manager of Irving House Inn in Cambridge, MA and a Cambridge Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year. “It makes no sense to expect people to work who don't earn enough money for rent, food, transport or medical attention. These employees are stressed out, resentful and just not at their best.”

Renee Erickson, owner of Sea Creatures Restaurants in Seattle, said, “Paying people what they deserve will make for a better business and a better country to live in.”

The states with minimum wage increases effective December 31, 2015 are:

  • New York to $9.00 ($9.75 for employees of fast food chains except New York City where it will go to $10.50)
  • West Virginia to $8.75

The states with increases effective January 1, 2016 are:

  • Alaska to $9.75
  • Arkansas to $8.00 (increases to $8.50 on Jan.1, 2017)
  • California to $10.00
  • Connecticut to $9.60 (increases to $10.10 on Jan.1, 2017)
  • Hawaii to $8.50 (increases to $9.25 on Jan.1, 2017, $10.10 in 2018)
  • Massachusetts to $10.00 (increases to $11.00 on Jan.1, 2017)
  • Michigan to $8.50 (increases to $8.90 on Jan.1, 2017 and $9.25 in 2018)
  • Nebraska to $9.00
  • Rhode Island to $9.60
  • Vermont to $9.60 (increases to $10.00 on Jan.1, 2017 and $10.50 in 2018).

States with Indexing where Cost of Living Adjustments will take effect January 1, are Colorado going to $8.31 and South Dakota going to $8.55.

In 21 states – from Georgia to Pennsylvania, Texas to Virginia – minimum wage workers make the federal rate of $7.25 an hour, which comes to just $15,080 a year. And the highest state minimum wages on January 1 will still have less buying power than the minimum wage of 1968 (nearly $11 in today's dollars).

Gina Schaefer, owner of A Few Cool Hardware Stores, a group of ten Ace Hardware stores in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia, said, “Fair wages help us attract and retain employees who deliver the great service that draws customers to our stores and enables us to grow. Increasing the minimum wage makes good business sense and keeps more dollars circulating in our local economy.”

Hundreds of businesses are signing the Business for a Fair Minimum Wage statement in support of raising the federal minimum wage to at least $12 by 2020 (the level in the Raise the Wage Act introduced in April). More than 35 million workers would benefit from a $12 minimum wage by 2020, boosting businesses and the economy with increased consumer spending.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has a detailed chart of state minimum wage rates and scheduled increases. The UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education has a detailed inventory of city rates and increases.

Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a national network of business organizations, business owners and executives who believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense.

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Members of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage across the country are available for comment and/or television and radio booking. Please contact Bob Keener, 617-610-6766bob@businessforafairminimumwage.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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