8/8/2016 2:23:55 PM
Workers on the front lines of the region’s hospitality and retail trade industries got a new reason to smile when the final phase of Minnesota’s three phase increase to the minimum wage occurred on August 1, raising the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 for large employers (gross sales over $500,000) and $7.75 for small employers (gross sales under $500,000).
Set in motion by the state legislature and Governor Dayton in 2014, the minimum wage increases have most directly affected wages within a very specific set of occupations in Southwest Minnesota, primarily in accommodation and food services, retail trade, and building and grounds cleaning services.
According to DEED’s Occupational Employment Statistics, this includes more than half the cashiers in the region, which amounted to more than 2,800 workers; as well as more than 2,275 food preparation and serving workers, including fast food. Retail salespersons, packers and packagers, stock clerks and bartenders will also be significantly impacted.
In addition, there were 16 other occupations where the median hourly wage for workers was below $9.50 – meaning over 50 percent of those workers are earning less than the new minimum wage; including five occupations where 75 percent of workers were earning less than $9.50: waiters and waitresses, lifeguards, dishwashers, fast food cooks and gaming runners (Table 1).
In sum, of the approximately 500 occupational titles tracked in Southwest Minnesota, almost 100 had some percentage of workers earning less than $9.50 per hour. Half of those had just the 10th percentile wage below the new minimum wage, but in cases like office clerks, janitors and cleaners, and home health aides, that still amounted to a notable number of workers.
More than 17,600 workers in the region (based on the 10th percentile wage of $9.05) may enjoy a pay bump as the new minimum wage laws go into effect for larger employers, giving them a new reason to smile.