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Ohio minimum wage to increase by 15 cents in January

In January, all workers earning minimum wage in Ohio will receive a 15-cent raise.

In January, all workers earning minimum wage in Ohio will receive a 15-cent raise. 

According to Ohio’s Department of Commerce, the state’s minimum wage will automatically increase on Jan. 1, 2015 to $8.10 for hourly employees and to $4.05 an hour for tipped employees. Currently, the full-time minimum wage is $7.95 and $3.98 for part-time workers.

A 2006 Ohio Constitutional Amendment requires that minimum wage will increase at the beginning of each year based on the rate of inflation. 

OU Records Management Senior Specialist Pam Dailey said there are 5,000 minimum wage jobs for students. 

Kelsey Watroba, a junior studying sports management who works for OU’s Culinary Services, is excited about the increase even if it seems small. 

“Anything helps,” Watroba said. 

In the past five years Watroba has worked at OU, she said there hasn’t seen a very sizable increase to minimum wage — despite the yearly adjust set by the state.

“I would like to see a bigger increase because I’m a student,” Watroba said. “Every little bit helps, but I have a lot of expenses while I’m at school.”

Athens County Job and Family Services Communication Relations Coordinator Arian Smedley agrees that the 15-cent increase doesn’t go far enough. 

That state policy has a direct negative impact on struggling Athens residents, she argued. 

“The cost of living in (Athens) city limits is unattainable for people living with minimum wages,” Smedley said.

Smedley calculated with the January increase, $8.10 an hour provides a person working full time $324 a week which is an estimated $17,000 a year — which works out to be “150 percent of the federal poverty line,” Smedley said. 

“Some of these workers do not even get 40 hours a week,” Smedley pointed out. 

In 2012, according to the United States Census Bureau website, 32.2 percent of Athens county residents lived below the poverty line compared to 15.4 percent of Ohioans. 

“Our perspective is it isn’t enough,” Smedley said. “Other states have re-visited minimum wage and we think it is time Ohio does the same.”

Smedley added that even cities, such as Seattle, have made adjustments to minimum wage when the state would not make changes. 

“Minimum wage should be increased to a healthy, sustainable salary for people to live productive lives that isn’t so close to the poverty line,” Smedley said.

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