Low-wage workers in Vermont will see their paychecks steadily increase over the next four years after Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) on Monday signed a bill to increase the minimum wage.
The legislation will raise Vermont’s minimum wage from $8.73 an hour, already almost a dollar above the federal minimum, to $9.60 in 2016, $10 in 2017 and $10.50 in 2018. Beginning in 2019, the minimum wage will be indexed to inflation.
That phased-in approach, which several states have adopted, is aimed at reducing the impact of wage hikes on businesses. Still, local chambers of commerce and business groups have said the wage hikes will cost jobs for those who need them the most.
Shumlin was among a handful of Northeastern governors who joined President Obama at the White House earlier this year to call for a higher minimum wage. But with action unlikely in the Republican-led House of Representatives, Democratic-run states are raising wages on their own.
“States like Vermont realize that working people can’t support their families on the current minimum wage, and we’re moving ahead to do the right thing on our own,” Shumlin said.
Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, West Virginia and the District of Columbia have all passed minimum wage increases this year. The Seattle City Council earlier this month raised their city’s wage to $15 an hour.
Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia currently have minimum wages above the federal minimum. Another 19 have minimum wages equal to the $7.25 federal rate. A total of 38 states considered legislation that would have addressed the lowest-wage workers.