The new rate brings the Pacific state into line with the hourly
wage U.S. President Barack Obama has pushed at a federal level,
where the current rate stands at $7.25. Legislation to raise the
national minimum wage has stalled in Congress.
In Hawaii, as at the national level, proposed increases have
drawn strong opposition from some business owners, lobby groups, and
economists, who say it will raise costs and kill jobs.
Hawaii now joins California, Maryland, Connecticut, and Washington,
D.C., in passing legislation to raise their state minimum wage over
time to, or above, the $10 hourly mark, according to the National
Conference of State Legislatures.
Under Hawaii's legislation, which passed both the state's Senate and
House of Representatives in almost unanimous votes on Tuesday,
increased wages would be phased in and reach the new rate by January
Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, who has expressed concern that the
hourly minimum has not been increased since 2007, is expected to
sign the bill on Wednesday.
Hawaii Democratic State Senator Clayton Hee said in an interview
after the vote that Hawaii's high cost of living made an increase
vital for low-wage earners struggling to get by.
[to top of second column]
Hawaii Restaurant Association Executive Director Roger Morey told
Reuters that restaurants would have to absorb rising costs in
Hawaii's tourism-dependent economy, though the slower phase-in would
help businesses prepare.
Much of the Hawaii wage debate has centered on tips. Under the
measure, employers of tipped workers making less than $17.10 per
hour with tips would be required to pay the minimum of $10.10 per
hour. For workers making more than $17.10 per hour, employers can
deduct a $.75 tip credit from the wage.
Under the current $7.25 hourly rate, the tip credit is $.25 per hour
for those workers making at least $7.75 an hour.
(Reporting by Malia Mattoch in Honolulu;
writing by Eric M. Johnson;
editing by Gareth Jones)
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