Supporters of a higher floor wage have pointed out that Hawaiʻi’s is lower than in other highest cost-of-living states; and that the others—California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and Washington state—have passed laws to raise their wage to at least $15 over the next five years.
Some of the bill’s backers have suggested amendments, such as bumping up the wage to $17 within the next several years. They make compelling arguments that due to Hawaiʻi’s high cost of living, an increase is vital for workers at the bottom of the scale, including many who have been on the pandemic’s essential-worker front lines.
In testimony, Hawaiʻi Appleseed Center for Law & Economic Justice said: “Research shows that increasing minimum wage increases spending, putting money right back into local stores and restaurants. Raising the minimum wage helps keep money in our state, by directing it at the wallets of local workers.”