While the federal minimum wage is $7.25, only a few states actually have that as their own minimum wage. Most other states have set a higher state minimum wage, which is also true in Hawaii.
History of the Minimum Wage
Before we delve into the minimum wage in Hawaii, let’s first talk about when the minimum wage was established and why. The federal government established the minimum wage in 1938. The government decided to “protect workers in the labor force” and “to create a minimum standard of living to protect the health and well-being of employees” (Cornell Law).
However, over time, the increased cost of living has made the minimum wage less effective at protecting workers. Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25; it has not been increased in 10 years. Meanwhile, in that same time frame, the cost of living has increased 20% (CBS News). Some states, such as Hawaii and 28 others, have state minimum wages that are higher than the federal minimum wage.
What Is the Minimum Wage in Hawaii?
The current minimum wage in Hawaii is $10.10 per hour. While that is not among the lowest in the United States (that honor goes to states paying employees just $7.25 an hour), it’s also not among the highest. Some of the highest minimum wage rates in states like Connecticut, California, and Massachusetts are $13 to $14 per hour.
In addition, while 21 states are planning minimum wage hikes in 2021, Hawaii is not. Their minimum wage will remain $10.10. However, an increase may be coming. Just recently, Hawaii lawmakers have been discussing raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2022.
Cost of Living Has an Impact
Even though the minimum wage in Hawaii is average compared to other states, its cost of living is not. “Hawaii has the highest cost of living in the nation with an index of 191.8. The national average index was set at 100. . .[and] the second closest was. . .the District of Columbia at an index of 159” (Dwell Hawaii). Unfortunately, $10.10 per hour won’t stretch far in Hawaii, making living on the income from a job that pays minimum wage difficult.
There May Be Hope of a Federal Increase
There may yet be hope of a larger minimum wage increase in the United States. President Biden is currently trying to increase the federal minimum wage to $15. The $15 minimum wage was originally included in Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package, but it was removed early to help the package go through. Biden has made it clear he wants a $15 minimum wage, so perhaps sometime during his presidency, it will pass.
Hawaii’s minimum wage of $10.10 is higher than the federal minimum wage, but in a state with such a high cost of living, living on such a wage can be difficult.
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