Hawaii lawmakers vote to increase hourly minimum wage to $10.10

HONOLULU Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:20am EDT

Cresencio Bumanglag, a worker of Dole Food Company, rakes coffee fruits for them to dry at the company's Waialua coffee and cocoa farm on the North Shore of Oahu, in Hawaii November 9, 2011. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

Cresencio Bumanglag, a worker of Dole Food Company, rakes coffee fruits for them to dry at the company's Waialua coffee and cocoa farm on the North Shore of Oahu, in Hawaii November 9, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Yuriko Nakao

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HONOLULU (Reuters) - Hawaii lawmakers voted late on Tuesday to raise the U.S. state's hourly minimum wage to $10.10 from the federal minimum $7.25 at a time of heated national debate over wages and rising income inequality.

The new rate brings the Pacific state into line with the hourly wage U.S. President Barack Obama has pushed at a federal level, where the current rate stands at $7.25. Legislation to raise the national minimum wage has stalled in Congress.

In Hawaii, as at the national level, proposed increases have

drawn strong opposition from some business owners, lobby groups, and economists, who say it will raise costs and kill jobs.

Hawaii now joins California, Maryland, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C., in passing legislation to raise their state minimum wage over time to, or above, the $10 hourly mark, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Under Hawaii's legislation, which passed both the state's Senate and House of Representatives in almost unanimous votes on Tuesday, increased wages would be phased in and reach the new rate by January 2018.

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, who has expressed concern that the hourly minimum has not been increased since 2007, is expected to sign the bill on Wednesday.

Hawaii Democratic State Senator Clayton Hee said in an interview after the vote that Hawaii's high cost of living made an increase vital for low-wage earners struggling to get by.

Hawaii Restaurant Association Executive Director Roger Morey told Reuters that restaurants would have to absorb rising costs in Hawaii's tourism-dependent economy, though the slower phase-in would help businesses prepare.

Much of the Hawaii wage debate has centered on tips. Under the measure, employers of tipped workers making less than $17.10 per hour with tips would be required to pay the minimum of $10.10 per hour. For workers making more than $17.10 per hour, employers can deduct a $.75 tip credit from the wage.

Under the current $7.25 hourly rate, the tip credit is $.25 per hour for those workers making at least $7.75 an hour.

(Reporting by Malia Mattoch in Honolulu; Writing by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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Comments (2)
cupera1 wrote:
Facts about minimum wage and those that earn it.
1. Of all workers only a little over 2% earn the minimum wage
2. 43% of workers who would benefit live in households with income over $50,000 a year.
3. Among families where an adult was earning the minimum wage, 94% had a spouse who was also employed, often far above the minimum wage.
4. Nearly two-thirds of all minimum wage earners receive a raise with the first 1-12 months on the job.
5. The people hurt the most by a raise in the minimum wage are first time job seeker, minorities and women.
6. Every time there is a rise in the minimum wage there is a sharp spike in the number of unemployed that earn the minimum wage.

Apr 30, 2014 12:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
theblamee wrote:
I will not tip. Tipping is only used as a means of cultural extortion by sleaze ball companies that refuse to pay their employees a living wage. Nuts to that. And then the size the tip – 10, 15, 20-percent, and what and how much extortion is appropriate. How about nothing. And I am the sleaze ball if I don’t tip, or tip “enough.”

And those that do tip? Where does that money actually go? Back to the employer who doles out who gets what, sometimes even taking his “piece of the action.”

Think the government doesn’t know what’s going on. The IRS considers tipping “income” so they have to have their share, too.

The thing rots from the top down.

May 01, 2014 12:41pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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