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Minimum wage workers to get 20 cent per hour increase starting January 1

pxfuel/creative commons

Michigan workers making minimum wage get a twenty cent per hour pay increase starting on Wednesday, January 1st, 2020.

That brings their pay to $9.65 an hour.

Tipped workers get an 8 cent increase, bringing their base pay without tips to $3.67 per hour.

It could be a lot better, according to Yannet Lathrop, an analyst with the National Employment Law Project.

Of the 29 states that pay above federal minimum wage... Lathrop says Michigan still has one of the lowest minimum wages.

Lathrop says opponents of raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour or above often warn about threats to jobs and the economy.  She says there's not much reason to worry about that.

"If Michigan were to raise its minimum wage faster, I don't foresee that being a problem for the economy," she says.  "What the research on the minimum wage says is an increase is good for those who are affected, without really having much of a consequence for employment or hours."

In a controversial move in 2018, the Republican-controlled state legislature adopted a citizen initiative seeking to increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2022.  The initiative, if approved by voters, would also have increased the minimum wage for tipped workers to $12 an hour by 2024.

But the legislature then amended the new law, so the increase to $12 for minimum wage workers won't happen until 2030, and the hourly wage for tipped workers will only reach $4.58 by 2030.

It's not clear how many people are currently working minimum wage jobs in Michigan.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Market Information says the Occupational Employment Statistics survey captures wages based on a range and not a specific hourly rate.

Therefore, finding the exact number of people at certain wages is impossible.

However, state officials say the data does allow broader calculations. 

In 2018 there were approximately 535,000 positions paying under $10 per hour, which includes individuals who may have held multiple jobs.

In 2018, these four occupations had the most jobs below $10 per hour in Michigan:

Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food; Waiters and Waitresses; Retail Salespersons; and Cashiers.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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