New Minimum Wage Begins
July 23, 2009
Alaska's new minimum wage goes into effect tomorrow (July 24th),
giving workers in the state an increase in the minimum wage for
the first time in more than six years. The increase is the result
of the passage this spring of Senate Bill 1, which was signed
into law two weeks ago.
"This raise is long-overdue for our lowest paid workers,"
said Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage), a prime sponsor
of SB 1. "Especially in the current economy, people need
to make a decent living for themselves and their families."
Alaska's minimum wage will increase from $7.15 an hour to 50
cents above the federal minimum wage (or $7.75) 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 Hollis French (D-Anchorage), a co-prime
sponsor of SB1. "Our minimum wage should at least keep
pace with other states. Currently, it is lower than 19 other
More than 8,000 Alaskans earn less than $7.75/hour and will
benefit from this legislation. SB 1 passed the legislature with
overwhelming bipartisan support; the Senate approved it by a
vote of 17 to 2, and the House by a vote of 35 to 5.
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 lead to job loss, but do result in greater productivity,
lower recruiting and training costs, decreased absenteeism, and
increased worker morale.
Other prime sponsors of SB 1 are Senator Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage),
Senator Joe Thomas (D-Fairbanks) and Senator Bettye Davis (D-Anchorage).
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