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Minimum wage hike is not a huge factor for some employers

johnny at work.jpg
John Williams, owner of the Burger Bunker and Grinders Soups & Subs
Posted at 6:43 PM, Jan 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-05 20:43:08-05

GREAT FALLS — Montana’s minimum wage increased from $8.75 per hour to $9.20 per hour on January 1, 2022 - an increase of 45 cents per hour. What impact will this have on businesses?

Not much for John Williams, owner of the Burger Bunker and Grinders Soups & Subs in downtown Great Falls.

His employees were already making more than the minimum wage and he said most businesses nowadays do the same.

Williams said, "We find that even the entry-level positions now are up to $13, $14 dollars an hour.”

"(It) definitely affects the cost we have to charge. It also makes a difference in how you staff and how you choose to use your labor,” said Williams.

While the exact economic impact the increase will have is hard to quantify, the Montana Department of Labor & Industry reported that as of December 2021, only about 1.8% of the state's workforce makes minimum wage or less.

The agency noted that that the $0.45 increase in the minimum wage is higher than the increases in the last several years due to higher inflation.

In 2006, Montana voters approved Initiative 151, which increased the minimum wage by $1 and instituted an annual adjustment to account for inflation. Here are the changes to the Montana minimum wage since then:

  • Jan. 1, 2007: $6.15
  • Jan. 1, 2008: $6.25
  • July 24, 2008 (federal increase): $6.55
  • Jan. 1, 2009: $6.90
  • July 24, 2009 (federal increase): $7.25
  • Jan. 1, 2011: $7.35
  • Jan. 1, 2012: $7.65
  • Jan. 1, 2013: $7.80
  • Jan. 1, 2014: $7.90
  • Jan. 1, 2015: $8.05
  • Jan. 1, 2017: $8.15
  • Jan. 1, 2018: $8.30
  • Jan. 1, 2019: $8.50
  • Jan. 1, 2020: $8.65
  • Jan. 1, 2021: $8.75
  • Jan. 1, 2022: $9.20

Scripps National reports that 21 states and 35 cities and counties across the country will be starting the new year by raising their minimum wage. In addition, four other states plan to join them later in the year, along with 20 more locations.

While 2022 is set to be a record-breaking year for boosting the minimum wage locally, it's a different story at the federal level, where the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour — the same it's been since 2009. That represents the minimum wage in 21 states across the country.