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Big Change in the Works for St. Paul Job Seekers: $15 Minimum Wage

By: Megan Toner, Case Management Intern

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter is paving the way for a big change in the way St. Paul’s minimum wage workers live. Minimum wage has been a hot topic for years. Many people now realize that people working for minimum wage do not make enough money to support themselves or their families.  An article on CNBC by Ester Bloom states, “The percentage of American full-time, minimum-wage workers who can afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment in any U.S. state without being what the government calls "burdened" is so vanishingly small that it rounds down to zero”.

Often the job seekers who come to Daily Work need help finding two or three jobs because they cannot make ends meet with just one job, especially if it pays minimum wage. I have met with multiple job seekers who work an overnight shift and then work a daytime shift with a small time gap in between which leads to being overworked and overstressed.

The Citizens League, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging citizens in public policy issues, created a study committee to review all aspects for a new minimum wage ordinance in St. Paul. The city of Minneapolis passed an ordinance for a $15 per hour minimum wage in June 2017 and gives employers seven years to reach the target wage.

Frederick Melo at the Pioneer Press explained some of the options under consideration in St. Paul:

OPTION 1: FIVE- TO SEVEN-YEAR ROLL-OUT

The first option would allow a 180-day youth training wage for city-approved programs that employ young people. It gives large businesses five years to reach $15 per hour, and small businesses seven years.

OPTION 2: FOUR- TO SIX-YEAR ROLL-OUT

The second option would allow a 365-day youth training wage. Large businesses would have four years to reach $15 per hour, and small businesses would have six years.

OPTION 3: TIP CREDIT, SIX- TO SEVEN-YEAR YEAR ROLL-OUT

The third option would allow a 180-day youth training wage, and provide a “tip credit” but “only for full service restaurants for a probationary/trial period.” The city would evaluate the effectiveness of that trial program annually. Large businesses would have six years, and small businesses would have seven years to implement a $15 minimum wage.”

St. Paul’s minimum wage will not increase right away but it is a start to fixing the minimum wage problems that I see job seekers dealing with at Daily Work. A $15 minimum wage will give job seekers hope and possible relief from the need for a second job or the dilemma of turning down a growth potential job because it doesn’t pay enough. Mayor Carter stated that he would like to have a policy decided before the end of the year.

You can visit the Citizens League website at https://citizensleague.org/projects/minimum-wage/ to see the full report on raising the minimum wage in St. Paul.

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