New Johnson County minimum wage starts today

JOHNSON COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) - The new Johnson County minimum wage starts today. The Board of Supervisors used Consumer Price Index data to set the increase, which is based on inflation.

Though the wage increase is symbolic in nature and unenforceable under State law, the Supervisors approved the increase to remain in line with their vote in September 2015 to begin phased increases.

"Many of our residents in Johnson County have benefited from this increased minimum wage," said Lisa Green-Douglass, Board Chairperson. "Though the legislature took away our power to enforce it, we are upholding our promise to the workers of Johnson County. We encourage local businesses to continue to support this and increase their employee wage to $10.40 on July 1."

The State of Iowa's minimum wage was increased to $7.25 per hour in 2008, ahead of the Federal increase to $7.25 in 2009, but has remained at $7.25 and is not indexed for inflation.

On Sept. 10, 2015, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance establishing a Johnson County minimum wage. According to that ordinance, the minimum wage in Johnson County was raised in three steps – to $8.20 per hour on Nov. 1, 2015, to $9.15 per hour on May 1, 2016, and to $10.10 per hour on Jan. 1, 2017.

On March 30, 2017, Governor Terry Branstad signed legislation eliminating the ability of jurisdictions within the State of Iowa to set a minimum wage above the State minimum wage. Johnson County had a higher minimum wage than the State for 17 months, including three months when it was $10.10 per hour.

In December 2017, the Minimum Wage Advisory Committee, which was composed of members of the public and residents of Johnson County, presented the findings of the report, "Jobs and wages in Johnson County before and after the minimum wage increase," at a Board of Supervisors' Informal Meeting. The Committee found that the minimum wage increase did not appear to hurt businesses, which was a suggested possible negative consequence. Additionally, the wage increase benefited low-wage workers, who saw a larger increase in their average weekly earnings.

The Board of Supervisors has created a multi-year, multi-step process to increase the base wage rate for all County employees, including part-time, seasonal and temporary employees, and interns.