- Delaware became the 10th state to gradually raise its minimum wage to $US15 ($AU20) an hour.
- Like several other states hiking their wages, it will be a gradual increase over the next four years.
- The federal minimum of $US7.25 ($AU10) has remained unchanged since 2009.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The number of states set to raise their minimum wage to $US15 ($AU20) an hour is now in the double digits, as Delaware joins the club.
“Delawareans who go to work full time shouldn’t be living in poverty,” Gov. John Carney said in a statement after signing it into law on Monday.
Residents will get their first raise in 2022, with the wage gradually increasing to $US15 ($AU20) by 2025. Currently, Delaware’s minimum is $US9.25 ($AU13) an hour – $US2 ($AU3) higher than the federal minimum of $US7.25 ($AU10). It will go up to $US10.50 ($AU14) in 2022, according to Delaware Online. It hits $US11.72 ($AU16) in 2023, $US13.25 ($AU18) in 2024, and then $US15 ($AU20) in 2025.
With Delaware, one-fifth of the states in the US are now set to enact a $US15 ($AU20) minimum wage. Many, including recent additions Rhode Island and Florida, are gradually increasing their wages. Experts previously told Insider that a gradual increase helps businesses adjust to the higher rates. But that could also mean that the wages will be worth less than $US15 ($AU20) by the time they’re enacted as inflation grows.
The move by Delaware also comes as progress on raising the federal minimum wage remains stalled. Eight Democrats voted against including a $US15 ($AU20) minimum in President Joe Biden’s stimulus package, and talks between party members on hiking the wage reportedly haven’t gotten far. The federal minimum wage has been $US7.25 ($AU10) since 2009.
Many states have simply taken wage raises into their hands, with 29 states above the federal minimum of $US7.25 ($AU10).
“I think every time a state like Delaware joins the movement, it’s going to encourage other states to do so,” Sunborn said. “And I hope that what the other states will see is that this will be a successful transition for Delaware, businesses and encourage other states to join the movement.”
Courtney Sunborn, owner of Ecolistic Cleaning in Lewes, Delaware, and a vocal advocate for raising the minimum wage, is part of advocacy group Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. She said her business has paid a “living wage” since it began. In an op-ed for Delaware Online, she wrote that none of her employees will make less than $US15 ($AU20) by the end of the year.
“I have had such great success with paying living wages. My business … has been in business for 18 years, and over those 18 years, we’ve had growth every single year, excluding last year due to COVID,” Sunborn said, adding: “The financial gains each year, I believe, are in part due to me paying employees living wage.”
She attributes that to paying less for marketing due to happier employees and customers, as well as lower employee turnover.