Hibbing Daily Tribune staff report

Minimum wage workers in Minnesota should expect a bigger paycheck come Jan. 1, 2020.

Small companies like many found in downtown Hibbing that earn less than $500,000 in revenue annually are set to pay a minimum of $8.15 an hour, an $0.11 cent increase from the $8.04 of today. The new amount is also applicable for any employee under age 20, training wages and the first 90 days of employment.

Large employers, such as Walmart and Lowes, that make $500,000 or more in revenue per year are scheduled to pay $10 an hour, a $0.14 cent jump from the current $9.86 an hour.

While the increases are being welcomed across Minnesota, Nancy Leppink, commissioner with the state Department of Labor and Industry said in a recent statement that “more work needs to be done to ensure workers earn a living wage to support their families.” Leppink continued, “Minnesota families of three or more will remain at or below the poverty level even though an adult family member is working full time at the minimum wage, forcing many families to seek assistance to make up the living-wage gap.” The bump follows an adjustment for inflation, according to the state agency.

Cameron Macht, a regional analysis at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, said that there are currently 144,430 jobs in northeast Minnesota that have a 10th percentile wage close to today’s $9.86 an hour minimum for large employers. Topping the list are the 5,370 jobs for retail salespersons with a 10th percentile hourly wage of $10.34, and a median hourly wage of $11.86.

Not surprisingly, Macht said, some of the other jobs with lower wages include cashiers, waiters and waitresses, food prep and serving workers, janitors and cleaners, office clerks, personal and home care aides and home health aides.

“However, most of these occupations also have higher median hourly wages where 50 percent of workers make more and 50 percent make less,” Macht explained on Monday. “Only nine of these occupations have a median hourly wage that is within $1 or so of the Minnesota minimum wage.”

Overall, there are 2.2 million jobs paying exactly minimum wage across the state of Minnesota. Minneapolis and St. Paul, which account for 1.9 million of those jobs, adhere to different minimum rates.

The statewide minimum wage rates apply to all hours worked, whether full-or part-time, and must be paid appropriately, no matter the method of payment. For employees who are covered by both state and federal minimum wage laws, their pay defaults to the state minimum wage, which is higher than federal rates. There are, however, exempt positions, such as volunteers, cab drivers and babysitters and those who serve on government boards, among others.

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