Originally Published: January 1, 2016 9:55 p.m.
The states went in opposite directions for new laws that went into effect Jan. 1.
Texas eased restrictions on carrying guns, while California tightened those.
It's easier to register to vote in Oregon, but harder in North Carolina.
Minimum wage rises in many states; it stays the same in Arizona.
Arizona is listed with the states with automatic annual increases effective Jan. 1, but the Industrial Commission of Arizona announced, "Effective January 1, 2016, Arizona's minimum wage does not change; it remains $8.05 per hour. Every employer covered under the Act will be required to pay each employee wages not less than this amount."
When Arizona voters in 2006 approved the Raise the Minimum Wage for Working Arizonans Act, it read "the minimum wage shall be increased on January 1, 2008 and on January 1 of successive years by the increase in the cost of living and that the increase in the cost of living shall be measured by the percentage increase as of August of the immediately preceding year over the level as of August of the previous year of the consumer price index (all urban consumers, U.S. city average for all items) or its successor index as published by the U.S. department of labor or its successor agency, with the amount of the minimum wage increase rounded to the nearest multiple of five cents."
When they calculated it this year, the increase came out to 1.6 cents to $8.07, which was rounded to that nearest five cents and so the minimum wage stays the same, $8.05.
The "nearest five cent" rule seems to be a built-in lock so that Arizona can skip a few years of giving increases, while still appearing to be a worker-friendly state.
This ties into our series on the working poor and homelessness. Have you tried to pay the most basic of your bills on $8.05 per hour? Good luck.
Other states recognize the issue: Fast-food workers in New York state receive their first pay bump under a new law that eventually will push their minimum wage to $15. The full amount will kick in at the end of 2018 in New York City and 2021 in the rest of the state. The wages were increased in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia on Friday.
A friend of mine has a mid-20's son still living at home because he works in Prescott Valley making $8.05 per hour. There is no way he can pay rent, car insurance, utilities, groceries, gas and cover his night classes to better himself so he can make more than $8.05 per hour.
I'm not an economist and I cannot claim to know the answer to fixing the working poor situation and the connected issues, but I do know we need to change the way things are done.
- Robin Layton, editor
Follow Robin Layton on Twitter @RobinLaytonAZ. Reach her at 928-445-3333, ext. 1095,
email@example.com or 928-533-7941.