By MARY SCHUERMAN KUHLMAN

Ohio News Connection

An annual pay raise has kicked-in for Ohio’s minimum-wage workers, who will now earn $9.30 per hour, about $2 more than the federal minimum wage.

The $0.50 hourly increase is the largest since 2006, when a ballot initiative indexed the minimum wage to inflation.

Hannah Halbert, executive director of Policy Matters Ohio, noted had Congress done the same when it set the federal minimum wage in 1968, it would now be worth about $13 an hour, and she pointed out $9.30 amounts to just over $19,000 annually for a full-time worker.

“That’s still more than $2,000 under the poverty guidelines for a family of three,” Halbert explained. “Even if they’re working full time, playing by the rules, doing what they can, they’re still not going to be able to break that poverty threshold.”

Ohio is among nine states where a 2022 minimum-wage increase is tied to the cost of living. California’s hit $15 Jan. 1, as part of an incremental increase. Eight other states are also in the process of incrementally raising their minimum-wage amounts to $15 an hour.

According to Policy Matters Ohio, raising Ohio’s minimum hourly wage to $15 by 2026 would benefit 1.6 million workers. Halbert is convinced it would help the overall economy and reduce income inequality.

“Thirty-six percent of working women in Ohio would see a pay increase, and 44% of Black working Ohioans would also see an increase,” Halbert outlined. “Raising the wage really does help clear up some of these drivers of inequality in the low-wage system.”

Halbert emphasized the impact of the pandemic on job market data makes it difficult to determine just how many Ohioans are affected by the 2022 increase. Some 84,000 workers benefited from a $0.15 minimum-wage adjustment in 2019.