Minimum wage to increase today

State raise of 50 cents brings the minimum hourly pay to $7.75

Posted: Friday, January 01, 2010

Minimum pay for hourly work today goes to $7.75 an hour, up from $7.25.

The increase brings Alaska to 50 cents an hour more than the federal minimum wage.

It is the first time in more than six years for a minimum wage increase in Alaska. The state Legislature passed the increase in June, 2009.

The minimum wage was increased in two steps, explained state Department of Labor Commissioner Click Bishop. In July, the law, Senate Bill 1, called for a 10-cent increase to match the federal minimum.

The increase applies to all employees in the private sector but is not likely to have a big impact on Juneau's economy, Juneau Economic Development Council Executive Director Brian Holst said, because workers in the lowest-paid sectors in Juneau already earn higher than the minimum wage.

"Typically, service workers in Juneau are making $10 to $14 an hour," he said.

If the new law has an impact on any sector of the community, Holst said he'd expect it to be positive.

"It's difficult to make ends meet in Juneau on minimum wage," he said.

Economists at the state Department of Labor said it's too early to predict the impact of the increase, although they acknowledged wages have not kept pace with inflation in Alaska.

The federal minimum wage was set by the Fair Labor Standards Act. It has gone from $1.30 in 1969, to $3.10 in 1980 and $5.85 in 2007.

• Contact reporter Kim Marquis at 523-2279 or e-mail kim.marquis@juneauempire.com.



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