Bill would raise minimum hourly wage to $15

Hawaii’s hourly minimum wage would increase over two years to $15 by 2020 under a proposal advanced Tuesday by the Senate Labor Committee.

Senate Bill 2291 would raise the state’s minimum wage from $10.10 an hour to $12.25 per hour in 2019, and to $15 per hour the following year — a 48 percent increase overall. The rate increased to its current level on Jan. 1, the final of four annual increases that began in 2015.

Hawaii is one of 13 states with a minimum wage of $10 an hour or higher. An estimated 4.6 percent of hourly workers in the state, or about 30,000 employees, are paid the minimum wage, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

The proposal was widely supported by labor organizations and individuals who said Hawaii’s high cost of living quickly eats up wages here, but was strongly opposed by employers who contend costs are too high.

The Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law & Economic Justice testified that at $10.10 per hour a person working full time with no days off earns $21,000 a year in gross income. “With the highest cost of living in the nation, mainly caused by sharp increases in the cost of housing, $10.10 is not a living wage for a single adult in Hawaii, much less adults supporting children and others,” the center said.