Montana sets $8.50 minimum wage

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Montana’s minimum wage will increase to $8.50 per hour beginning Jan. 1, 2019, according to an announcement Friday from Gov. Steve Bullock’s office. The minimum wage currently is $8.30.

An estimated 8,200 Montana workers, or 1.8 percent of the workforce, received hourly wages less than $8.50 per hour in 2018 and are likely to receive higher wages due to the 2019 minimum wage increase. In 2017, the industry with the largest number of workers earning minimum wage was the accommodations and food services industry followed by the retail trade industry. Food preparation workers and sales are occupational groups with large number of minimum wage workers.

“Every Montanan who works hard should have the opportunity to get ahead. We’re among a handful of states where each year minimum wage workers take home a little extra in their paychecks, but there’s more to be done,” said Gov. Bullock. “We must continue to help working families succeed by bringing in better jobs, helping businesses expand and investing in areas like apprenticeships and education.”

The minimum wage is determined by taking the current minimum wage of $8.30 and increasing it by the CPI-U increase from August of 2017 to August 2018. The CPI-U increased by 2.68% over the year ending August 2018. To keep the minimum wage at the same purchasing power as the prior year, the wage should increase by $0.223 per hour. The resulting wage is $8.523 and statute specifies that the wage must be rounded to the nearest 5 cents.

According to a press release from Bullock’s office, in 2006 as a private citizen, Bullock led ballot initiative I-151, approved by Montana voters, to raise the minimum wage and require that the minimum wage be adjusted annually for inflation. As a result, 39-3-409 MCA requires the Department of Labor & Industry to adjust the Montana minimum wage for inflation using the CPI-U.

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