New Year brings first in series of state minimum wage increases - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

New Year brings first in series of state minimum wage increases

Trevor Wiseman Trevor Wiseman
Rico Davis Rico Davis
Bob Vereecken Bob Vereecken
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Many workers had the day off for the New Year's Day holiday. But some of those who were on the job may have enjoyed had a wage hike, as Hawaii joined 20 other states that increased their minimum wage.

The state hourly minimum wage is now $7.75, an increase of 50 cents per hour.

"I think it's better for the kids who are making minimum wage," said Trevor Wiseman, who works on commission selling tour packages to tourists in Waikiki. "They need to make more money, obviously, because its expensive to live in Hawaii."

Then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a series of minimum wage increases into law last May. The wage will increase to $8.50 per hour on Jan. 1, 2016; then to $9.25 in 2017; and finally to $10.10 per hour in 2018.

Opponents have argued that raising the minimum wage will hurt small business owners and the economy. But supporters said increasing it will result in additional spending by workers.

Even with the wage hike, some said it's still not enough, especially in Hawaii.

"I think the minimum wage here should be higher," said worker Rico Davis. "I think it should be at least $12 an hour because the cost of living here is skyrocketing."

"We work both full time, we have four kids, and it's still paycheck to paycheck, and we make a decent rate," said Wiseman's co-worker Bob Vereecken about what it takes for him and his wife to live here. 

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 10,000 workers in Hawaii made the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. That's about four percent of the state's total work force, but the government also said the percentage has been growing. 

Workers here said it's good to raise the minimum wage, but they would really like to see a wage people can live on.

"You got a two-thousand dollar rent for a two-bedroom," said Vereecken. "You gotta pay people what they earn. What they deserve to earn."

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