Raising the minimum wage to $17 an hour by 2024 could mean a pay boost of over $4,300 a year for more than 200,000 Hawaii workers, according to a new report by the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law & Economic Justice.
The report released Tuesday details what demographics could be affected by a minimum wage increase in Hawaii.
More than half of affected workers would be women, just over 28% would be parents and about 78% would be 25 or older. A wage boost could also affect 80% of food service workers and more than 65% of retail workers.
A supporter of minimum wage increases listens to a House committee in January.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
The report also disputes the argument opponents of a minimum wage increase make that a wage increase could hurt small businesses in Hawaii. It says that minimum wage workers would likely spend their additional income in ways that boost the local economy.
It also says paying workers a higher wage could save money on turnover costs later on.
Hawaii Appleseed has been active at the Capitol lobbying for measures to increase Hawaii’s minimum wage. The center reported spending more than $32,800 from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28, of which $11,000 went to lobbyists to influence legislation, according to data from the Hawaii Ethics Commission.
Two measures proposing minimum wage increases are still alive in the Legislature and likely heading to conference committees between the House and Senate.
House Bill 1191 would increase the wage to $15 an hour by 2023 and require that state government workers be paid at least $17 an hour. It also creates tax credits of up to $50,000 a year for small businesses with 50 or fewer employees.
Senate Bill 789 includes blank dollar amounts for wage increases by 2024. The bill also bans employers from paying people with disabilities less than the minimum wage.
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Blaze Lovell is a reporter for Civil Beat and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was born and raised on Oahu. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @blaze_lovell