New year, new minimum wage in Vermont
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermonters making the minimum wage are kicking off the new year with a boost.
The scheduled change is an $0.80 increase for hourly employees, from $11.75 an hour to $12.55. For tipped workers, it goes from $5.88 to $6.28.
The increase does not affect many workers, as wages already began going up to retain workers or incentivize new workers during the pandemic. The majority of staff at the Edge Fitness Club in South Burlington are already making above the new state minimum.
“We will see a very minimal impact, obviously the landscape has changed dramatically over the last couple of years,” said Mike Feitelberg, the CEO of the Edge. “Wages have gone up, I think, through all different ranks of the facility and operations.”
The increase does not impact many businesses but could help out thousands of families.
“At the department, from an operations perspective, it won’t change things,” Vermont Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington said. “For the individual who has a family who is working an entry-level or minimum wage job, it certainly will mean a lot to them.”
Harrington says the number of people who are making minimum wage has shrunk, and will likely continue to in the long term. He says that’s because more businesses are offering higher wages, to attract workers.
“If someone is looking at an entry-level job, they are likely to find one that is paying substantially more than minimum wage,” Harrington said.
What higher wages can’t do though, is fill the job vacancies the state has. Harrington estimates there are between 20,000 and 25,000 job openings in Vermont, with only around 8,000 eligible to fill those jobs. Harrington says if you’re looking for a job, now’s the time to apply. And he says for those making the minimum, it’s also never a bad time to keep looking.
“We are seeing what would have been an entry-level minimum wage employer, now offering $15, $16, $17 an hour for people just starting out. So that’s positive news, again, that just by economic forces the starting wage for individuals increase or surpass minimum wage,” said Harrington. “There are many opportunities for people to advance either in your education or their compensation.”
Vermont joins a list of 21 states kicking off the new year with an increase in the minimum wage.
In eight states, including New York, the increases are part of scheduled raises to reach a $15 minimum wage in the years to come.
States are also increasing rates through automatic cost-of-living adjustments based on inflation.
The federal minimum wage stays put at $7.25. That rate hasn’t moved since it began in 2009.
The nearly 13-year period is the longest American workers have ever gone without a federally mandated increase in the minimum wage.
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