SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Federally mandated minimum wage increase takes
effect today - but not in Alaska

By M.C. Kauffman


July 24, 2007

Ketchikan, Alaska - The long awaited for federally mandated minimum wage increase takes effect today -- except however, for Alaskans.

Wage and Hour Investigator Joe Rios with the Alaska Department of Labor told SitNews in a telephone interview today that this federally mandated minimum wage increase will not raise Alaska's minimum wage since the minimum wage is already higher here. Rios explained, the minimum wage in Alaska is set by the Alaska State Legislature.

Joe Dunham, Wage & Hour Investigator with the Department of Labor, told SitNews that the Alaska minimum wage is not tied to the federal minimum wage. Dunham said, "It used to be but was changed in the last Administration."

Today's federally mandated increase raises the minimum wage 70 cents to $5.85 per hour in most states. The wage will continue to rise over the next two years, eventually reaching $7.25 per hour in July 2009. But according to the Alaska Department of Labor, this federally mandated increase doesn't apply in Alaska due to the fact that Alaska's minimum wage is already $7.15 per hour.

The Alaska Legislature can increase Alaska's minimum wage as they have done in the past. In April of 1991 the Legislature raised the minimum wage in Alaska to $4.75 per hour. Five years later in 1996, the Legislature raised the minimum wage to $5.25 per hour. The minimum wage was raised again in 1997 by 40 cents to $5.65 per hour. The last minimum wage increase was in January of 2003, when the Legislature raised Alaska's minimum wage to $7:15 per hour.

Alaska's minimum wage will never be lower than the federally mandated wage. The Alaska Legislature can address minimum wages at any time; however, with the federally mandated minimum wage reaching $7.25 per hour in July 2009, Alaska's minimum wage will have to be addressed at least by that date.

Also included in the bill is a small business provision, which translates to $5 billion in meaningful tax relief for small business owners to offset any possible negative effects caused by the minimum wage increase said Congressman Don Young.

"Today has been a long day coming," said Young in a prepared statement. "The working people of America and of Alaska deserve to be paid a living wage and this bill is a step in the right direction."



Source of News:

Alaska Department of Labor

Office of Congressman Don Young


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