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Ohio's lowest-paid workers get a raise to start 2019

Posted: 11:49 PM, Jan 01, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-02 00:52:31-05
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CINCINNATI — Ohio’s minimum hourly wage rose by pocket change Tuesday: $4.15 to $4.30 for workers who receive tips and from $8.30 to $8.55 for those who don't.

Although the annual adjustment was a welcome one for workers such as server Sage Knight, who works at the Banks, Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld said an additional $6-10 per 40-hour work week seemed scant in comparison to the rising cost of living.

“I feel like one of the fundamental promises of American is that when you work hard and full-time, you’ll earn a living wage,” he said. “That’s not the case on $8.55 an hour.”

Echoing politicians and advocacy organizations that have campaigned for greater hikes to minimum wage across the country, Sittenfeld said he was especially concerned about parents attempting to build futures for their children on an annual income of around $18,000.

“Am I glad it’s going up rather than staying flat or going backwards? Of course,” he said. “Do I think it’s enough? No.”

Knight and other servers said they preferred to look at the increase long-term. Six dollars might not make a significant difference from week to week, but an additional $318 each year could.

“It’s not a lot, but after a while it’s going to add up, and I think it’ll be really helpful,” Knight said. “On nights like this, when I have maybe two or three tables on my whole shift, it’s going to make a big difference.”

The federal minimum wage hasn’t changed since 2009, when it rose to $7.25, but many states have passed laws mandating a higher hourly wage within their borders.

Ohio was slightly ahead of the curve: Its residents voted in 2006 to approve a constitutional amendment that would bump the state minimum wage slightly upward each subsequent year.

Nineteen other states approved increases for 2019, according to NPR . Those included boosts ranging from $.05 in Alaska to a full $1 for Maine, Massachusetts and California.