Nebraska Needs a Raise

The Center for Rural Affairs is proud to support the Nebraskans for Better Wages campaign, which seeks to place a measure on the 2015 ballot to gradually increase the state’s minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $9.00 per hour by January 1, 2016.

With lower incomes and wages in rural and small-town Nebraska than in urban areas, there are numerous reasons this will enhance the economic well-being of rural Nebraskans. A full-time minimum wage worker currently earns below the federal poverty level for families of two or more. Nearly 32,000 Nebraskans earn minimum wage.

Minimum wage workers aren’t all teenagers; they are your next door neighbor. The average minimum wage worker is 35, and 88 percent are at least 20 years old. Over one-quarter are parents, most are women, about one-third have attended college, and the average minimum wage worker contributes half their household’s earnings.

These folks need a raise. Moreover, the proposed minimum wage increase would reduce poverty in Nebraska by 2.4 percent and would generate nearly $3,000 in new consumer spending by these households.

Arguments against increasing the minimum wage ignore facts and history. Historically, modest increases in the minimum wage have little to no effect on employment, nor do they result in job losses. And the vast majority of minimum wage workers work for large corporations not small businesses.

We encourage all Nebraskans to sign a petition to place this on the 2015 ballot.