Minimum wage hike the right direction

When the calendar clicked over to Jan. 1, workers across Hawaii received a boost in pay.

The state’s minimum wage broke the $10 an hour mark as it increased to $10.10 per hour. While that’s certainly not an extravagant amount of money, it is a substantial hike from just a few years ago when it was $7.25, which it had stayed at for eight years, from Jan. 1, 2007 to Jan. 1, 2015.

Per Act 82, Session Laws of Hawaii (2014), the minimum wage went up four times since 2015: from $7.25 to $7.75 on Jan. 1, 2015, and to $8.50 on Jan. 1, 2016, and $9.25 on Jan. 1, 2017.

Certainly, no one begrudges workers earning more money, especially on an island where the cost of living is high. This extra income could keep roofs over the heads of families, food on the table, vehicles on the road, and will likely circulate through businesses, further bolstering Kauai’s economy.

If you think the minimum wage in Hawaii is too high, consider that the District of Columbia is on schedule to rise to $13.25 an hour on July 1 and headed for $15 by 2020; $11.50 in Washington State; $11 an hour in Massachusetts; $11 in California and $10.50 in Vermont.

State’s with the lowest minimum wage, at $7.25, include Wisconsin, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota and North Carolina.

Now, some will argue, and there are reports to show, that raising the minimum wage isn’t always good. It can force a business owner to reduce staff, reduce hours or raise prices to make up the difference. Few business owners are going to just absorb the cost of paying workers more without doing something to adjust their budgets and maintain a certain profit margin.

But raising the minimum wage offers workers a chance to earn more money, save money, perhaps make a better life for themselves and their families. It could raise their standard of living. Without the government requiring businesses to pay employees more, they would, in some cases, likely never see an increase in pay. They will have more money to spend, which is turn will help businesses grow.

In the long run, a higher minimum wage is going to benefit the workers, the business community and the government. It will, overall, create a happier work environment which is good, again, for the employees and the employer.

We might add that the state is watching to be sure the new wage is paid.

“The Legislature also created a new administrative process for wage law along with a new, minimum $500 penalty to act as a deterrent, and both employers and workers should be aware of the requirements under the law,” said Leonard Hishijo, Hawaii State Department of Labor &Industrial Relations acting director.

The Payment of Wages and Other Compensation Law, Chapter 388, Hawaii Revised Statutes, details the requirements of paying wages. Workers should be aware of the following requirements for employers:

w The rate of pay should be given at the time of hiring, along with the time and place of payment,

w Any changes to payment agreements require advance notice either in writing or in a posting at the worksite,

w Paychecks are due at least twice a month,

w Paychecks should be issued within seven days after the end of the pay period, and

w Full wages are due at the time of termination.

The state’s unemployment rate at an all-time low of about 2 percent, combined with this minimum wage hike, offers blue-collar workers more opportunities to succeed and build for the future.

  1. RG DeSoto January 5, 2018 4:30 pm Reply

    Dear Editor:

    What a shame that you so misunderstand the effects of minimum wage laws. This reflects your gross ignorance of economics. Please see:
    RG DeSoto

  2. Stan Lake January 6, 2018 1:03 pm Reply

    Government telling businesses how much to pay employees as in a minimum wage is never a good thing. If $10.10 an hour is good, then $11 would be better as would $15 or $25 an hour. Why not make the minimum $50 an hour so everyone can live really well? Because according to the Congressional Budget Office, every raise in minimum wage results in the loss of jobs. When government tries to force its economic theories of what’s “right” into a market controlled by supply and demand it makes a mess. Forcing businesses to incur mandatory wage hikes has few possible outcomes. The government may be able to force employers to pay more per hour but not more per week. Unless the business can easily pass on the increased costs to customers (inflation) the business either makes less, gives employees fewer hours or cuts benefits to make up for the loss.

    Minimum wages are primarily paid to entry level workers, young people who provide their unskilled labor so they can learn how to show up for work on time, take directions and get along with others while they are learning a skill. Minimum wage jobs are meant to be a stepping stone, not a destination. Raising minimum wages makes it harder for young and inexperienced workers to get jobs.

    To paraphrase liberal economist Paul Samuelson- “What good does it do someone to know that an employer must pay him a minimum wage if the fact that he must be paid that wage keeps him from getting a job?”

    The best way for a person to get paid more is to improve themselves. Become a more valuable employee, ask their boss what is needed for them to get ahead, to get a raise. Good employees are hard to find and valuable. Good employers will pay them well, otherwise someone else will.

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