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Editorial: Support incremental minimum wage hike

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | FEBRUARY 17, 2015 5:00 AM

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The battle over the minimum-wage increase may never end. This week, Iowa Democrats plan to move a bill out of committee that will provide an increase to hourly minimum wage by $1.50 by July 2016.

The state’s current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. If the plan is successful, minimum wage will see an increase of 75 cents on July 1. The next 75-cent increase would come one year later, making minimum wage $8.75 on July 1, 2016. Before the latest changes to the bill, the goal was set at an increase of $2.85 — placing the minimum hourly wage at $10.10.

The Daily Iowan Editorial Board supports the current proposal for a raise in minimum wage because the moderate increase places Iowa in line with other Midwest states’ minimum wage, and it will help improve the lives of working families across the state.

Iowa has one of the lower minimum-wage rates in the Midwest. When compared with its Midwest counterparts, Iowa comes up short. Minnesota and Nebraska both have a $9 minimum wages, and South Dakota and Illinois have minimum wages above $8.

According to the National Conference of State Legislators, 17 states have increased their minimum wages from what it was in the early part of 2014 as of Jan. 1. Furthermore, many of these states had hourly rates above not only Iowa’s current minimum wage but above the minimum wage the proposed increase would be in Iowa as well.

The increase — which has been lowered since the initial proposal — is a modest and reasonable one when compared with other states. Not only have several other states’ proposed increases been put into place, but between those with recent hikes and those with already increased minimum wages, Iowa is falling behind.

There are 29 states that have a minimum wage above Iowa’s $7.25. Furthermore, several of these states are in the midst of incremental or segmented increases that would push the national average further from Iowa’s $7.25.

But more important than the relative size of the increase when compared with other states’ increases is the effect the change will have on Iowa families.

According to Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum’s news conference last week, the raise in minimum wage could result in $3,000 more for Iowa working families. This $3,000 additional income is beneficial to not only individuals in the state of Iowa but of course, to the state’s economy as well.

The economic and personal effects of a such a significant income gain for families in the state of is benefit enough to be in favor of this legislation. However, combined with Iowa’s minimum wage falling behind much of the country, The Daily Iowan Editorial Board confidently supports this modest proposal to increase the minimum wage incrementally to $8.75.


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