Workers across the state get a raise today, but often still can’t make ends meet

Clark Biegler
Aug 01, 2016

Today many Minnesota workers will receive a raise. That’s due to the final scheduled minimum wage increase to $9.50 for large employers (and $7.75 for small employers and young workers).

In 2014, Minnesota policymakers enacted a long overdue increase to the state’s minimum wage. Since then, the minimum wage has seen scheduled, incremental increases to bring it up to $9.50 this year. Starting in 2018, the minimum wage will increase based on inflation (commonly called “indexing”), so that it better keeps up with the cost of necessities, like rent, food and gas.

The minimum wage is an important tool to set a wage floor among all workers so that more workers across the state can better make ends meet. In fact, this climb to $9.50 is estimated to boost the incomes of about 325,000 Minnesotans. The minimum wage increase is also an important racial equity measure, as almost one in three Hispanic workers in the state and about one in five black workers will see higher wages.

However, for many Minnesotans, the wage boost might not be enough. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development calculates that a single, full-time worker needs to earn $14.46 an hour to earn a living wage and cover their basic needs. A Minnesota family with two earners (one working full-time, one working part-time) and one child needs to earn $17.57 an hour.

Minnesota’s minimum wage for large employers is currently the ninth highest minimum wage among the states and D.C., but this ranking will drop. Other states are implementing scheduled steps toward higher minimum wages, including $15 an hour in several places. While Minnesota’s minimum wage increase was crucial, policymakers can and should do more so that those who work hard can support themselves and their families.

-Clark Biegler