SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


State Senate Passes Bill to Raise Minimum Wage


April 10, 2009

The State Senate passed Senate Bill 1 Wednesday, which would increase Alaska's minimum wage for the first time in more than six years.

"Alaska's workers have gone far too long without a reasonable minimum wage," said Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage), a prime sponsor of SB 1. "Especially in these hard economic times, we need to ensure that our lowest-paid citizens can earn a decent living."

Under the bill, Alaska's minimum wage would increase from $7.15 an hour to 50 cents above the federal minimum wage on January 1, 2010. Alaska's minimum wage was last raised in January 2003. Had it kept pace with inflation, it would be about $8.46 today.

"Alaska's cost of living is one of the highest in the nation," said Senator Joe Thomas (D-Fairbanks) another prime sponsor of the bill. "Despite this, 19 states have a higher minimum wage than Alaska, including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. In July of this year, when the federal minimum wage increases to $7.25 an hour, ours will be lower than 39 other states, unless this bill is signed into law."

More than 8,000 Alaskans earn less than $7.75/hour and would benefit from this legislation.

Senator Wielechowski noted that workers who earn the current Alaska minimum wage make roughly $14,872 a year, little more than the federal poverty level for Alaska, which is $13,530. Nationally, 25% of those workers are parents, and many are the sole wage earners in their households.

Economic studies have found that modest increases in the minimum wage do not have negative employment impacts, such as job losses, perhaps because higher wages lead to greater productivity, lower recruiting and training costs, decreased absenteeism, and increased worker morale.

SB 1 now goes to the House of Representatives for its consideration.


Source of News:

Senate Bipartisan Working Group


E-mail your news & photos to

Publish A Letter in SitNews         Read Letters/Opinions

Contact the Editor

SitNews ©2009
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska