BILLINGS — Twenty-seven states including Montana raised their minimum wage effective with the start of the new year. Montana’s minimum wage increased from $9.20 per hour to $9.95 per hour beginning on January 1, 2023 - an increase of 75 cents per hour, the largest in more than a decade.
Montana law requires that the minimum wage be adjusted annually based on changes in inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index all Urban Consumers (CPI-U) from August of the year in which the calculation is made, and is rounded to the nearest $0.05.
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
If anyone knows a thing or two about staff retention, it’s Bill Mitchell, owner of Mitchell Golf.
“The people I have mostly been working here a long time, some people up to 25 plus years,” said Mitchell on Monday.
He said there’s no secret formula to keeping employees but believes it starts with paying more than minimum wage, which was just raised 75 cents to $9.95 an hour.
“Our goal is to keep people here and I want to pay them maybe a little more than they might make doing the same job elsewhere,” Mitchell said.
It appears Mitchell isn’t the only one who has that figured out. According to the Montana Department of Labor, only 4.2% of the state’s workforce was making minimum wage in 2022.
“I believe 15 really should be the minimum wage. We found that people who make less than that almost need a second job to survive and especially with inflation right now,” said the business developer for Express Employment Professionals in Billings, Mark Hardin.
None of the companies that work with Express Employment Professionals offer minimum wage.
“We have a couple in the 14 range but for the majority, our clients are 16 to 17,” said Hardin.
That even includes fast food restaurants as most are now offering higher wages to try and combat the nationwide worker shortage.
Hardin knows firsthand that it works. He said companies offering lower wages have a harder time finding employees.
“If the wages came up, I think a lot of places would be a little bit more successful in finding the right applicants,” Hardin said.
That’s something Mitchell figured out long ago, but it’s an approach especially true now as inflation takes its toll on both businesses and customers alike.
“It’s been interesting because of inflation, a lot of our lower-priced entry items have gone up significantly in price,” said Mitchell.
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