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PUBLIC POLICY

R.I. to increase minimum wage on Jan. 1

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PROVIDENCE – On Jan. 1, the state’s minimum wage will increase 35 cents to $7.75 an hour, increasing the average minimum wage worker’s annual pay in Rhode Island’s by $510.

The state last increased its minimum wage in 2007 and, according to a release from the Rhode Island branch of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, the 2013 wage increase will affect an estimated 29,000 low-income workers in the state.

The Economic Policy Institute estimates that roughly 11,000 workers in Rhode Island will be directly impacted by increasing their hourly wage and 18,000 workers will see a raise as pay scales are adjusted upward to reflect their new minimum wage.

According to the institute, 64 percent of these workers are adults over 20, 69 percent work 20 hours or more a week and 40 percent have at least some college education.

“Rhode Island’s modest minimum wage increase this year will help promote economic growth by boosting the exact kind of consumer spending that we need to accelerate the post-recession recovery,” George Nee, president of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, said in a statement.

“Congress should not only learn from Rhode Island’s example by raising the minimum wage, but it should also index the minimum wage to rise automatically with the cost of living so that low-paid workers do not fall further behind each year,” added Nee.

Rhode Island is one of nine states – plus the District of Columbia – to increase their state minimum wage rates on New Year’s Day, including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon and Vermont. Collectively, this will raise wage rates for roughly 1 million workers across the United States.

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