Nebraska's 'real' minimum wage will be nation's highest

Nebraska’s minimum wage is on track to top the charts.  The $9 hourly rate that goes into effect in 2016 will equal about $10 an hour when adjusted for cost of living, which should make it the highest effective statewide minimum wage in the nation.

The effective minimum wage is based on an analysis of state minimums and federal cost-of-living data from 2012, the most recent year for which data are available.

"I’m certainly proud of the fact that Nebraska workers are going to have the highest purchasing power with the minimum wage of any state in the country," said state Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha, who sponsored the initiative to increase the minimum wage here.

Nebraska's raise, which voters approved in the Nov. 4 election, comes in two parts: a bump to $8 an hour in January, then $9 in 2016.

Supporters have said the increase here is right-sized for the state, and have called for action at the federal level to improve conditions for minimum-wage workers across the country.

Nebraska's $9 figure was based on a Voices for Children of Nebraska study of what it takes to be self-sufficient here, Nordquist said.

"We may be the only state in the country that has a minimum wage that you could call a living wage," he said.

“Hopefully (Nebraska's vote) will provide a wake-up call to Congress,” said Danielle Conrad of Lincoln, an outgoing state senator who was director of the pro-raise campaign Nebraskans for Better Wages.

A look at states' effective minimum wages raises questions about a one-size-fits-all answer, however.

For example, if every state had a $10 minimum wage, Mississippi's lowest earners would enjoy an effective income of $11.57 an hour. In D.C., that $10 would equate to just $8.46.

Nordquist said Congress should set a baseline minimum wage upon which states can build.

From the Lincoln Journal Star. Read more:

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