Minimum wage hearing on March 20

Lawmakers will take testimony on a proposal to raise the minimum wage this week.

Gov. Peter Shumlin wants to increase the state’s minimum wage from $8.73 per hour to $10.10 per hour, by 2017.

The hearing will be held in the House Chamber from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 20. Members of the public who want to testify can sign up 30 minutes before the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs begins taking testimony. Each person who testifies has two to three minutes to speak. The hearing will be recorded.

Last year lawmakers tied the minimum wage to the consumer price index so that the wage level increases a small percentage every year, but advocates say it’s not enough to help the working poor.

More than 16,000 Vermonters earn less than $9 per hour, according to a report prepared by legislative economist Tom Kavet and Joint Fiscal Officer staffer Deb Brighton and presented to the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs in late February. About 24,000 more wage earners made up to $10 per hour in non-agricultural sectors as of 2012, the report states.

The minimum wage bill, H.522, will likely take precedence over another labor bill — the earned sick leave legislation that lawmakers have spent weeks vetting and tweaking.

The business community has little appetite for either proposal.

President Barack Obama proposed an increase in bottom wages nationwide to $10.10 by 2017. A handful of Democratic governors have taken up the proposal.

 

Follow Anne on Twitter @GallowayVTD

Comments

  1. Jonathan Willson :

    Any idea how many of these 16,000 are highschoolers or college students? I’d like to know the number of people actually trying to support themselves on minimum wage rather than just total numbers.

    • Doug Hoffer :

      Good question. I looked at this as part of the Job Gap Study back in the late `90s.

      Not surprisingly, the majority of young people earn comparatively low wages. However, the majority of low-wage workers are not school age.

      And of course it’s not just those who earn the exact minimum wage, but all those who earn slightly (but not much) more.

      • Jonathan Willson :

        Any idea where I can find stats to show how many of these low wage folks aren’t students? Maybe distinguishing those still claimed as dependents would be a better description. 14,000? 15,000? 10,000? These stats would mean more if we can narrow it down to those folks who are underemployed or working low wage jobs while trying to support a family or start a career.
        A 15 year old working at Subway doesn’t carry the same burden as a single mother working at Subway.

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