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Minimum wage going up 10 cents

Tom Jackson • Dec 27, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Ohio’s minimum wage will go up 10 cents Jan. 1, thanks to Ohio voters who approved a state question years ago to include cost of living adjustments.

Ohio workers may get another pay hike in the future if Congress approves a minimum wage boost backed by President Obama. The U.S. House is controlled by Republicans, however, who may block the measure.

According to a report from Policy Matters Ohio, a left-leaning think tank based in Cleveland, Ohio’s minimum wage will go up a dime when the new year begins, to $7.95 an hour. The minimum wage for Ohio workers who receive tips will go up five cents, to $3.95 an hour.

In 2006, Ohio voters OK’d a ballot initiative that raised the state’s minimum wage and provided annual hikes to keep up with the cost of inflation.

Democrats in Congress have proposed the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2015, in three steps of 95 cents each. It would also be indexed, starting in 2016, to keep pace with the cost of living.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, is listed as a co-sponsor of the House version of the bill, while U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is listed as a co-sponsor of the Senate version. U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, are not listed as sponsors.

Kaptur has repeatedly said she supports raising the minimum wage, spokesman Steve Fought said”

“She thinks it’s important to raise the minimum wage because it’s long overdue,” Fought said. “The effective purchasing power of the minimum wage has declined severely.

“A lot of people work for minimum wage and they can use the increased purchasing power,” Fought said. “It’s also important because it sets a base for wages in general and would help other people who are making above minimum wage”

Brown released a statement earlier this year on why he supports hiking the minimum wage.

“Working full-time in a minimum wage job in Ohio pays about $16,000 a year — which isn’t much to live on when you’re trying to put food on the table, fill your gas tanks, send your children to school and provide a safe place for them to live. Ensuring a fair wage is good for middle class families and good for our economy” he said.

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan’s spokeswoman was out of the office Thursday and could not be reached for comment. A phone call Thursday to Portman’s press office wasn’t returned.

Conservative economists generally argue that raising the minimum wage hurts workers who have poor job skills by making it harder for them to find employment.

“Even studies that find the minimum wage has negligible overall employment effects find it decreases the employment of disadvantaged workers” said James Sherk, a policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation, during June testimony before a Senate committee.

“Kevin Lang and Shulamit Kahn of Boston University examined how restaurant employment changed after minimum wagehikes in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They found no evidence that the minimum wage reduced total restaurant employment, but they did find that it dramatically changed the mix of workers that restaurants hired. Teenage and student employment rose, while adult employment dropped” he said.

“A higher minimum wage is great news for a high school student working part time to buy an iPhone. It hurts lower-skill adult workers who need work to support themselves and perhaps their families. Making entry-level jobs less available makes it harder for them to gain the skills and experience necessary to advance to better paying jobs. The minimum wage effectively saws off the first rung on their career ladder” Sherk said.

Whether Ohio’s minimum wage law remains relevant depends on what Congress decides to do, said Amy Hanauer, executive director of Policy Matters Ohio.

If federal lawmakers do nothing, Ohio’s law will continue to affect many workers. If Congress raises the minimum wage but doesn’t include indexing, Ohio’s minimum wage eventually will overtake the federal minimum. But if federal lawmakers raise the minimum wage to $10.10 and also index it, Ohio’s minimum wage law will become irrelevant, she said.

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