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Minimum wage is not a fair wage

Landis Larson

West Fargo

This week some of the lowest-paid workers in the Midwest will see an increase on their next paycheck, but not here in North Dakota. Montana, Minnesota and South Dakota all have minimum wage laws indexed to inflation meaning when inflation goes up, so does the minimum wage. Minimum wage workers will now receive $9.20 in MT, $9.95 in SD, and $10.33 in MN. ND’s minimum wage has been stagnant at $7.25 for fourteen years due to legislative inaction.

Some say “There are no jobs in North Dakota that pay minimum wage.” If that’s the case, why are such powerful interests always in opposition to raising it? There are quite a few people that work for minimum or nearly minimum wage in our state. Many people in the service industry even work for less-than-minimum” tipped-employee wage of $4.86 per hour.

Others protest, “The cost of goods and services will go up.” If no one is paying minimum wage, what are you worried about? In actuality, study after study reports that minimum wage increases have done just the opposite; no tangible increase in the costs of goods and services. Instead, more money in workers’ pockets means more spending in the local economy.

And there is always the naysayer touting, “It’s because the cost of living in ND is lower.” No. It’s not. The cost of living in ND, MN and SD is about as close to the national average as it gets.

All workers should be paid a fair wage for their work. In 2022, $7.25 is not a fair wage and should be increased. Besides, if I’m wrong and there are no minimum wage jobs in ND, what’s the harm?

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