The minimum wage in the Virgin Islands has adopted the Federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour. The state law is $4.65 per hour and pays for premium time over forty hours on the sixth and seventh consecutive days. Except for businesses with gross annual receipts of less than $150,000 the state minimum wage is $4.30 per hour. The minimum wage for newly hired employees who are less than twenty years old and for the first ninety consecutive calendar days after initial employment is not less than $4.25 per hour.
The minimum wage of $5.15 per hour is paid to employees who are engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, or employed in an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce. The tourist service and restaurant industry minimum wage rate is $4.65 per hour with the maximum tip credit being 50% against the minimum wage which sets the minimum cash wage at $2.33 per hour.
The U.S. Virgin Islands’ economy relies on aid from the U.S. government, U.S. Virgin Island citizens living abroad and the tourism industry. Government jobs make up about one third of the work force. Tourism and the retail trade is the next largest employer. The Hess oil refinery, an aluminum plant and a cattle farm on St. Croix are the next largest employer. While the minimum wage in the Virgin Islands is the same as it is on the mainland, the standard of living is higher than the majority of the neighboring islands in the Caribbean. The economies of St. John and St. Thomas depend primarily upon tourism. Within the past decade there has been some industrial growth that the Economic Development Authority (EDA) Incentive Benefit Program has encouraged and is working on developing an industrial park.
Even though the U.S. Virgin Islands are working towards developing a strong economy, the unemployment rate is about six per cent of the workforce of approximately 50,000 people. My research shows that there are no plans to increase the minimum wage for workers in the Virgin Islands.
Wyoming’s minimum wage rate is $5.15 per hour for all employees. Wyoming state law makes exceptions for the following employees employed in Agriculture; Domestic service; Executive, administrative or professional capacities; Public employment — federal or state; Activities of educational, charitable, religious or nonprofit organizations where the employer/employee relationship does not exist; Minors under eighteen and part-time workers working twenty hours or less per week; Outside salespersons paid on a commission basis; Drivers of ambulances and other vehicles on call at any time; and individuals in educational or apprenticeship programs approved by the commissioner.
Some religious and social interest groups are banning together in Cheyenne, Wyoming to rally for an increase in the federal minimum wage law that Wyoming abides by. They are calling this event “Bridge the Economic Gap Day.” Organizers of this event say that increasing the current federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour is a moral issue. The federal minimum wage hasn’t increased in almost ten years and legislators in both the U.S. Congress and in Wyoming have failed to agree on any raise to the minimum wage.
By not increasing the minimum wage, Virginia Sellner, executive director of the Wyoming Coalition of the Homeless, has stated that this failure to increase the minimum wage creates problems in society. In addition, Tom Gallagher who is the manager of research and planning for the Wyoming Department of Employment feels that raising the minimum wage in Wyoming wouldn’t affect all businesses equally. He further stated that Wyoming is seeing very rapid wage growth in the state however; some areas in the state where wages are growing more slowly would feel more impact from increasing the minimum wage.
As the debate continues not only in Wyoming but also in Congress, many other states throughout the country have given their low wage workers more economic power by raising their minimum wage rate. Studies have shown that raising the minimum wage rate even by $1.00 per hour increases state revenues, improves the economy, does not cause job losses and helps to decrease government assistance programs.
The minimum wage in Wisconsin is $6.50 per hour for all adult employees. For tipped employees the minimum cash wage rate remains unchanged at $2.33 per hour. However, the maximum tip credit has been increased from $2.82 per hour to $3.37 per hour. The training/youth minimum wage rate is increased from $5.30 per hour to $5.90 per hour.
Wisconsin law also defines several groups of tipped employees as either “non-opportunity” or “opportunity” employees. “Opportunity employee” means an employee who is not yet twenty years old and who has been in employment status with a particular employer for ninety or fewer consecutive calendar days from the date of initial employment.
As a result the minimum cash wage “non-opportunity” employees is unchanged at $2.33 per hour but the maximum tip credit was increased from $2.82 per hour to $2.97 per hour. For tipped “opportunity” employees, the minimum cash wage is unchanged at $2.13 per hour, but the maximum tip credit was increased from $2.12 per hour to $3.17 per hour.
With this increase in the state’s minimum wage rate, the beneficiaries are many low income workers in Wisconsin. According to the State Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, the current unemployment rate in Wisconsin is 4.9%. The state’s economy continues to move forward by adding new jobs and creating new opportunities. Wisconsin has seen the same type of economic growth as other states that have raised its minimum wage rate. Unemployment is down, state revenues are up and government assisted programs decrease. Businesses have found that with an increase in the minimum wage productivity is higher, morale is higher, better quality employees are retained and less job turnover is realized. Wisconsin has joined other states in raising its minimum wage because they have decided not to wait for Congress to come to an agreement on raising the federal minimum wage rate.
The minimum wage in West Virginia is $5.85 per hour with overtime payment at a rate of 1 ½ times the regular hourly rate of pay for all hours worked over forty hours in a seven consecutive day period. In July of 2007 the minimum wage will increase to $6.55 per hour and in July 2008 to $7.25 per hour. The minimum wage rate applies to employers with six or more employees with at least $500,000 in annual gross income and doesn’t apply to any business involved in interstate commerce.
This three step increment increase originally was surrounded by much debate because its focus was on a limited scope. The legislators found that West Virginia law has some peculiarities that involves definitions and exemptions of employers. The current bill will only affect around 2,000 of West Virginia’s 20,000 minimum-wage workers. However, plans are underway for the next legislator session to try to amend the state law so it will cover all workers.
In addition, tipped employees will receive a maximum tip credit increase from the current $1.03 per hour to $1.17 per hour. In July of 2007 it will increase to $1.31 per hour and finally in July of 2008 it will increase to $1.45 per hour. As a result the current minimum cash wage for tipped employees is $4.68 per hour and will increase to $5.24 per hour in 2007. Finally, in 2008 the minimum cash wage for tipped employees will increase to $5.80 per hour. The training/youth minimum wage also increased from $4.25 per hour to $5.15 per hour; however this rate will remain the same in the following years.
West Virginia is just one of many states to increase its minimum wage in order to help its low income workers make a decent living. The bill was signed into law by West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin on April 5, 2006.
On January 1, 2006 the minimum wage rate in Washington increased by twenty-eight cents, from $7.35 per hour to the present $7.63 per hour. This same rate applies to tipped employees and does not allow employers to take a credit for a portion of the tips received by the employee. The minimum cash wage for tipped employees is the same as that for other employees at $7.63 per hour. The state of Washington has set a youth/training wage rate that applies to workers under the age of sixteen. This wage rate is calculated at 85% of the regular minimum wage rate and is calculation to approximately $6.48 per hour.
Back in 1998 the voters in Washington passed Initiative 688 that provided for a state minimum wage and automatically increases the minimum wage yearly based on increases in the consumer price index.
The state of Washington has found that raising its minimum wage has boost economic development and grown state revenues. Most of the development has been in service jobs which have traditionally been low wage income jobs. However, ever since the dot com bust in 2000, the state of Washington has turned to employing workers in more service jobs. In order to retain good employees, businesses realized that paying their workers a decent living was the best way to keep these workers. Businesses throughout Washington have seen productivity higher among their workers. In addition, businesses have realized lower recruiting and training costs, decreased absenteeism and overall increased worker moral.
By passing a state minimum wage law in their state, the State Legislators have met the needs of their workers as well as businesses throughout the state. While the U.S. Congress is still debating on whether to raise the federal minimum wage rate, many states such as Washington have taken the initiative to provide more opportunities for their workers.