Smack in the middle of America’s heartland, Kansas has a relatively low cost of living. On a scale of 100 being the average cost of living in the United States, Kansas’ cost of living is just 83.1. Therefore, it’s much cheaper to live in Kansas than the rest of the country. You can find a nice, three-bedroom home in Kansas for less than $200,000 with property taxes of less than $3,000 a year. The low cost of living is important because Kansas also has the lowest minimum wage rate in the country.
What Is the Minimum Wage in Kansas?
Since 2009, Kansas has had a minimum wage of just $7.25 per hour, the federal minimum wage rate. This is the lowest rate paid in the country, and matches neighboring Oklahoma’s minimum wage. However, Kansas’ three other neighboring states, Colorado, Nebraska, and Missouri have much higher minimum wages at $12.32, $9.00 and $9.45 an hour, respectively.
Kansas Has a History of Low Minimum Wage Rates
While $7.25 an hour is the lowest among the nation, that rate is quite a jump compared to Kansas’ previous minimum wage. From 1988 to 2009, Kansas’ minimum wage was just $2.65 even though the federal minimum wage was higher than that during this time.
Wichita City Hall May Pay More
In some states, cities pay a higher minimum wage than the state. For instance, Seattle pays a minimum wage of $16.69 per hour, while Washington state has a minimum wage of $13.50 an hour. Likewise, the minimum wage in Chicago is $14 an hour, while the minimum wage in Illinois is $11 an hour. However, that’s not possible in Kansas because Kansas has a law that makes it illegal for any city to pay a higher minimum wage than the state has set.
Recently, Wichita City Hall has explored the option of gradually raising their employees’ minimum wage to $15 an hour. This would only be available for city employees since the law prohibits the entire city of Wichita from raising the minimum wage.
There May Be Hope of an Increase
Kansas Democrats have repeatedly put forward bills to increase the minimum wage, but thus far, none of them have passed.
Biden has also made it clear that he wants to increase the federal minimum wage to $15. However, his initial attempt to have it included in the $1.9 trillion stimulus package failed when it was removed to help the bill pass. Perhaps sometime during his presidency it will pass.
Kansas’ minimum wage, $7.25, ranks with 20 other states as the lowest in the country. Still, this rate is a jump from Kansas’ former lowest wage of $2.65 an hour. Thankfully, Kansas also has a low cost of living, which makes their low minimum pay stretch a bit further.
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