For more information contact: Matt Roznowski 651-296-8875
ST. PAUL, MN – This week the Minnesota House approved legislation to increase the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 per hour by 2016 and give minimum wage workers an annual pay raise tied to the rate of inflation starting in January 2018.
Governor Dayton intends to sign the bill into law on Monday, April 14.
State Representative JoAnn Ward (DFL – Woodbury) said the bill will lift thousands of Minnesotans out of poverty.
“We have the third lowest minimum wage in the country and it has not increased in nearly a decade despite the rising cost of necessities like gas, groceries and clothing,” said Ward. “If you work hard 40 hours a week you should not have to live in poverty. Increasing the minimum wage will make a positive difference in the lives of women, men and children in our state. And we phase the increase in over several years, which in my mind is a reasonable approach that helps address the legitimate concerns of some business owners.”
Over 357,000 workers will see a raise when the bill is fully implemented. Of those workers, 45 percent have some college education and 57 percent, or 200,000 individuals, are women.
The bill is expected to have significant impact on Minnesota families. Of the workers expected to receive a raise, 62,850 are parents. And 14,200 of those are the sole wage earner in their household.
Details of the bill’s minimum wage increases include:
The minimum wage increase goes hand-in-hand with a bill approved with strong bipartisan support on Wednesday, April 9 called the Women’s Economic Security Act (passed by a vote of 106-24), legislation that will help close the gender pay gap so women can earn equal pay for equal work, provide more protections and flexibility for pregnant mothers in the workplace and create more opportunities for women to enter high-wage, high-demand professions.
“I was incredibly proud to support the bill,” said Ward. “Women are increasingly becoming the primary breadwinners of their families, so this bill is really about strengthening families. I think strong families are a key ingredient to growing our economy from the middle-out.”
Debra Fitzpatrick, Director of the Center on Women and Public Policy at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, says the gender pay gap has been stalled at 20 percent for the past decade, robbing each Minnesota woman and her family of almost a half a million dollars during their career.
“That isn't going to change without a comprehensive, research-based approach like the Women's Economic Security Act," said Fitzpatrick.
Other components of the Act would:
Allow mothers to stay in the workforce by expanding family leave and providing reasonable accommodations for pregnant and nursing employees
Expand access to high-quality, affordable childcare
Decrease the gender pay gap through the participation of women in high-wage, high-demand nontraditional work
Reduce the gender pay gap through increased enforcement of equal pay laws for state contractors and by allowing employees to discuss pay inequities
Decrease the gender pay gap by providing equal employment opportunities for family caregivers and reducing the “motherhood penalty”
Address economic consequences of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault
Enhance retirement security by considering a state retirement savings plan for those without an employer-provided option
Rep. Ward encourages her constituents to contact her with any questions about the minimum wage increase or the Women’s Economic Security Act. She can be reached by phone at (651) 296-7807, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by postal mail at 531 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.