North Carolina to see minimum wage increase

Sunday, July 16, 2006

North Carolina Governor Mike Easley signed into law a new minimum wage for the U.S. state Thursday. The increase of US$1 will raise the rate to US$6.15. Easley said that the new law will make it easier for North Carolinians to deal with the rising cost of living. The new law will become effective on January 1 next year. This is the first raise to the North Carolina minimum wage in nearly nine years.

Last Sunday in Pennsylvania, Governor Ed Rendell signed into law a phased-in US$2 minimum wage increase. For businesses with 10 employees or more, the rate will increase by US$1 on January 1 next year, then increase by another dollar on July 1.

"Signing this bill into law gives me personal gratification," said Rendell to cheering crowd of minimum wage workers at the signing ceremony in Philadelphia. The last time Pennsylvania made a change to the federally mandated minimum was in 1988.

Recent state level legislative initiatives to raise the minimum wage have failed in 18 U.S. states, according to the National Restaurant Association.

A total of 20 other U.S. states — Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin, plus the District of Columbia — have raised the minimum above the federal mandate.

The U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act, enacted in 1938, has been continuously amended by Congress over years with increases that make the federally mandated minimum wage what it is today, US$5.15 per hour. The last time the federal government raised the rate was in 1997.