An hourly minimum wage of $4.02 has been proposed for barber and beauty shop employes in the District of Columbia. If adopted, the rate would become the highest government-set minimum for any group of wage-earners in the nation.
The D.c. wAge-Hour Board, an autonomous arm of the city Labor Department, voted last week to schedule a hearing for Dec. 18 on the $4.02 rate, which was recommended by a special fact-finding panel.
Paula Jewell, chairman of the wage board, said the proposal was based on a calculation that a single employed person in the city must earn at least $8,365 a year to maintain a moderate standard of living. That is based in turn upon a federally established budget, she said.
At present, the highest minimum wages for any group of workers in the country also are in the District. Under two regulations adopted by the board earlier this year, domestic household workers and those employed in wholesale trade and the printing industry must earn at least $3.50 an hour.
Generally, the states and the District may not enforce minimum wages that are lower than the levels set by federal law. The current federal minimum wage is $2.90 an hour, scheduled to rise next year to $3.10. Alaska has a minimum wage 50 cents higher than the federal wage floor.
The District enforces the federal minimum except where it sets a higher level for a particular industry. Currently it has specific minimums for nine industry groups.
About 600 employes would automatically receive wage increases if the $4.02 minimum is adopted, Richard Seideman, executive officer of the wage board, estimated. Many of another 800 workers in the affected industries are expected to receive increases also, as they maintain a wage differential above the lower-paid workers.
The Dec. 18 hearing will start at 10 a.m. in the board's office, 614 H St. NW. Seideman said the board then can take up to 30 days to make a decision, which would take effect 60 days later.