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Alaska's minimum wage will increase to more than $10 an hour come January

(WSAZ)
Published: Sep. 26, 2019 at 5:52 PM AKDT
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Minimum wage workers will see an increase in their paychecks next year. Alaska's Department of Labor and Workforce Development has announced the increase will top ten dollars an hour.

Come January 2020, the minimum wage will go from $9.89 to $10.19, up 3-percent from last year. Economists say that while it isn't a significantly large increase, it's much more than we've seen in the past few years.

"3% doesn't sound like much, and it's not a lot, but strangely we've had the lowest period of inflation ever in our history. In 2015, 2016, 2017 where it was either a half a percent or less," said Neal Fried, economist for the State of Alaska, "So the minimum wage hardly increased at all during most of those years. Literally, I think one year it was four cents, and one or two years it was a nickel."

According to the announcement, the Anchorage consumer price index rose by 3-percent in 2018, causing the 30-cent wage increase, which is in line with a ballot measure passed in 2014 that keeps the state minimum wage in line with inflation.

"This might be the largest increase we've seen under that new law, said Fried. "There are other times where having an increase for a number of years and maybe increased by more than a dollar or two in one shot, but there were periods before that where it didn't change at all for a number of years."

Currently Alaska is one of about 30 states with a higher minimum wage than the federal dollar amount. Even so, Fried says most Alaskans are making well above our state's minimum.

"Our job market's pretty tight," said Fried. "It's not that easy to find workers and if they want to keep workers, they're probably going to have to pay something above that for certain occupations. For a lot of others, it's going to be a lot more than that. The average hourly wage in Alaska is about $28 an hour."

With the new wage increase, Alaska will have the 12th highest minimum wage in the country. The federal minimum wage currently sits at $7.25. It has not seen an increase in more than a decade.

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