SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


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 states."

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).


Source of News:

Alaska Senate Bipartisan Working Group


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska