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The increased minimum wage is the result of S.B 2609, signed into law as Act 82 in May 2014, which increases the state’s minimum wage rate incrementally over the next four years. In addition to the current increase, the law raises the state’s wage rate to $8.50 per hour beginning Jan. 1, 2016, $9.25 per hour beginning Jan. 1, 2017, and $10.10 per hour beginning Jan. 1, 2018.
The law also raises the tip credit over the next two years. Tipped employees may be paid 50 cents below the minimum wage beginning Jan. 1, 2015, and 75 cents below the minimum wage beginning Jan. 1, 2016, as long as the combined amount an employee receives as wages and tips is at least $7 more than the minimum wage.
The raises will affect an estimated 37,000 low-wage workers in Hawaii and result in $9 million of economic growth, according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), which based its projection on an analysis of Census data by the Economic Policy Institute. Hawaii's unemployment rate was 4 percent in October.
Hawaii is one of 20 states that raised the minimum wage on Jan. 1, affecting some 3.2 million workers across the country, according to NELP. The other states are: Alaska (delayed implementation), Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.
Rosemarie Lally, J.D., is a freelance legal writer and editor based in Washington, D.C.
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