Hawaii legislature passes bill raising minimum wage to $18

May 3, 2022, 4:31 AM | Updated: 4:59 pm

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii lawmakers passed legislation Tuesday that would hike the state’s minimum wage to $18 an hour by 2028, potentially the highest in the nation.

Advocates say the raise is badly needed in a state that routinely tops lists for most expensive housing and cost of living. But some businesses are warning they will have to cut staff or even close because they won’t be able to afford the greater pay.

The $18 minimum would be the highest dollar amount among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. However, some states automatically boost their minimum wage when the cost of living increases, which means places like California, which currently has a $15 minimum wage, could have a higher wage in six years time given inflation.

The House and Senate, both controlled by Democrats, approved the measure by wide margins. The bill now goes to Hawaii Gov. David Ige, who has said he supports an $18 minimum wage.

Hawaii’s minimum wage is currently $10.10 an hour. The bill would raise the rate in increments over the next several years, starting with $12 on Oct. 1.

House Speaker Scott Saiki said a study showing that 42% of Hawaii households struggle to make ends meet helped him support the increase. The Hawaii State AFL-CIO also endorsed going to $18.

Saiki said he wanted the minimum to rise in tandem with the consumer price index, but lawmakers didn’t reach a consensus on that.

A state analysis published in December showed a single person working 40 hours a week would need to earn $18 an hour to pay for housing and other necessities in Hawaii.

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Hawaii legislature passes bill raising minimum wage to $18