Linn County Supervisors approve board to study impact of minimum wage increase

The first 95-cent increase to Johnson County's minimum wage took effect in November

Supervisor James Houser comments on the minimum wage issue during a session at the Jean Oxley Linn County Public Service Center in Cedar Rapids on Wednesady, Jan. 13, 2016. Following an Iowa Policy Project report on the minimum wage issue, Linn county's supervisors discussed the possibility of pursuing a minimum wage in Linn County. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
Supervisor James Houser comments on the minimum wage issue during a session at the Jean Oxley Linn County Public Service Center in Cedar Rapids on Wednesady, Jan. 13, 2016. Following an Iowa Policy Project report on the minimum wage issue, Linn county's supervisors discussed the possibility of pursuing a minimum wage in Linn County. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Any vote for or against a Linn County minimum wage ordinance still is a ways off, but the county Board of Supervisors are moving forward with discussing the matter.

The board on Wednesday voted unanimously, with Supervisors James Houser and John Harris absent, to approve having county staff begin the process of creating a working group to explore the impact of a county wide minimum wage increase.

Members of the board said they feel fully researching a minimum wage ordinance, and opening communications with city representatives, business officials and minimum wage earners, is the best course of action before voting on any possible wage increase from the state and federal rate of $7.25 an hour.

“I think that’s a responsible path to take,” said Supervisor Ben Rogers. “It really is to understand how this will impact (the county) — positively and negatively — to make a well-informed decision.”

If passed, a Linn County minimum wage ordinance would blanket the entire county, but city councils would have the option of following the new rate or voting on a counter measure that would stick with the state’s rate within city limits.

Last November, the first 95-cent increase took effect for Johnson County’s minimum wage. The minimum wage will increase in May to $9.25 an hour and reach $10.10 in 2017.

In Johnson County, communities like Shueyville, Solon and Swisher passed counter ordinances to stick with the state rate.

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According to a report from non-profit research organization Iowa Policy Project, raising the county’s wage threshold to $10.10 an hour would directly benefit about 18,400 workers. Of those to benefit, 54 percent are women, 52 percent work full time and 23 percent are age 40 or older, while 20 percent are younger than 20.

Local Minimum Wage Ordinances in the U.S.

 

Source: National Employment Law Project, December 2015 Fact Sheet. Map by John McGlothlen / The Gazette

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