Posts tagged: minimum wage
Democratic candidates for office in Idaho, led by 2nd District congressional candidate Richard Stallings, Nels Mitchell, who’s running against GOP Sen. Jim Risch, and Bert Marley, who’s challenging Lt. Gov. Brad Little, will tour the southern half of the state next Tuesday in support of the Raise the Minimum Wage Campaign, with rallies in Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Twin Falls and Boise. Stallings’ campaign announced that the plan is to “draw a spotlight on the situation 29,000 Idahoans live with on a daily basis trying to live on $7.25 an hour.” There’s more info here.
Yesterday was the deadline to turn in signatures to qualify initiatives for the November ballot, and Boise State Public Radio reports that neither measure that was being circulated made the mark, or even came close. The backers of the initiative to legalize medical marijuana turned in only 559 signatures after a year of trying, BSPR reports, while those pushing for an increased minimum wage in Idaho had 8,301 qualified signatures at the deadline. Each needed 53,751 to qualify for the November ballot; you can read BSPR’s full report here.
During a conference call with reporters today, Idaho GOP Rep. Raul Labrador was asked about minimum wage protests across the country among fast food workers. “I’m against raising the minimum wage,” Labrador said. He said minimum-wage jobs allow entry-level workers to “acquire the skills that are necessary, so they can move up … the job ladders. If you make it more difficult for people to hire them at minimum wage, it’s impossible for them … to gain the experience that they need so they can make more money in the future.”
He added, “I lived with this in my own life. … My mom worked at McDonalds at one point in her life. She decided she wanted to make more money, so she got into the management program at McDonalds. That’s how you move up the chain. … Every time she had a job she would start at the bottom, and she would work her way up into management. She was still not making a ton of money, but that’s how people get ahead in life.”
He predicted “an explosion of unemployment if we start raising the minimum wage.” Idaho has the highest percentage of minimum-wage workers in the nation, at 7.7 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national rate is 4.7 percent.
The state’s minimum wage matches the federal rate at $7.25 per hour; its minimum for tipped employees is $3.35 per hour. An initiative currently is circulating to raise Idaho’s minimum wage to $9.80 in phases over the next four years; last week, initiative backer Anne Nesse said about a tenth of the required signatures have been gathered to place the measure on the ballot, with about four months to go.
Religious, education and community activists gathered over the weekend in Coeur d’Alene to kick off a voter initiative drive to raise Idaho’s minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour; a Catholic priest told the group the issue transcends politics. The initiative was filed in time to fall under Idaho’s current initiative laws – not the new law passed by lawmakers this year that makes it tougher to qualify an initiative measure for the ballot. That law takes effect July 1. You can read the full story here from S-R reporter Kip Hill.
Idaho’s minimum wage, currently $6.55 per hour, will rise to $7.25 per hour on July 24, as part of a three-step increase in the federal minimum wage approved by Congress in 2007. Idaho ties its minimum wage to the federal one, rather than setting its own; many of the surrounding states, including Washington, have much higher minimum wages.
Idaho Department of Labor spokesman Bob Fick said the three-year boost “has combined with the dampening effect of the national recession to actually give minimum wage workers a boost in buying power for the first time in over a decade.” Before the start of the three years of increases, Idaho’s minimum wage - since 1997 - had been $5.15 an hour. Today, that’s equal to $7.05 per hour - so the July increase will actually increase minimum-wage workers’ buying power above where it stood in 1997. About 40,000 Idaho workers will be affected by the July 24 pay hike, twice as many as were affected by the two earlier ones, to $5.85 in 2007 and to $6.55 in 2008.
Said Fick, “Communities along the Oregon and Washington borders are likely to feel the impact of this month’s wage increase the least, since Oregon’s minimum wage is $8.40 an hour and Washington’s is $8.55.” Nevada, with a minimum wage of $6.85 an hour, and Montana, at $6.90, will be affected by the increase, as will Utah, which, like Idaho, matches the federal minimum. Idaho sets a lower minimum for tipped employees, at $3.35 an hour, though employers must make up the difference if tips don’t bring those workers up to the minimum.