(WWJ/AP) — Workers who make minimum wage in Michigan will see an increase in payment, starting Monday. The state’s minimum wage increased from the current $7.40 per hour to $8.15 per hour on September 1.
Yannet Lathrop with the Michigan League for Public Policy calls the move a step in the right direction, but could have been more drastic.
“It’s just not going to be enough,” Lathrop said. “There’s a lot more work that needs to be done on raising wages to make them more of a living wage.”
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation in May to raise the state’s minimum wage by 25 percent gradually over the next four years, as Republicans controlling the state government moved to head off a November ballot measure that could have raised pay even more.
The Michigan House voted 76-34 and the Senate 24-12 for the bill. Roughly half the Republicans in the Legislature voted for it, along with most Democrats. Some Democrats said they voted no because the bill silences voters who signed the wage petition.
Lathrop added that most people who earn minimum wage are not just kids looking for some extra cash.
“Minimum wage workers actually tend to be at least 20-years-old,” Lathrop said. “They tend to have already graduated from high school, at least. Again, not teenagers.”
Lathrop did say that there is still a pay-gap between men and women in the state.
“When you increase the minimum wage, that would actually increase the earnings of women, which, over time, that can really help close the gender wage-gap,” Lathrop said.
A push by the group Raise Michigan to increase the wage to $10.10 an hour has since been dropped. The higher rate is supported by President Barack Obama and national Democrats, who have made the minimum wage a signature issue this election year. Snyder is up for re-election this year, as are many Michigan state legislators.
The state’s minimum wage was last increased six years ago. Under the new law, Michigan’s minimum wage will increase eventually to $9.25 per hour in 2018.
Michigan is the first state with a Republican-led legislature to raise its minimum wage this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota and West Virginia have raised their minimum wages, as well as the District of Columbia.
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