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Minnesota minimum wage to rise on Jan. 1

ST. PAUL — The 219,000 Minnesotans paid minimum wage will get a raise Jan. 1.

State officials announced Thursday, Aug. 23, that employees of large businesses will be paid at least $9.86 an hour, up from $9.65 that is required today. Those who work for smaller businesses will be paid a minimum of $8.04, compared to the current $7.87.

"This is great news for Minnesota's lowest-wage workers and will help them keep up with inflation to better provide for themselves and their families," state Labor Commissioner Ken Peterson said. "But more needs to be done so all Minnesotans can earn their way to economic security."

The pay situation is not as simple as just a couple of numbers.

For one thing, Minneapolis has its own minimum wage: $11.25 an hour for large employers and $10.25 for small businesses.

Also, large firms only need to pay the small-firm minimum wage to trainees and people 17 or younger. The training wage applies to 18- and 19-year-old workers in their first 90 days of employment.

Also, some people from other countries working under a J-1 visa can be paid $7.87.

The wage rose in 2014, after the Legislature and Gov. Dayton approved the first minimum wage hike in more than a decade. Starting last year, state law required the minimum wage to be based on economic conditions and could rise annually on Jan. 1.

Minnesota minimum wage jobs fall under the state law other than in Minneapolis and a few that are exempt from state law and can pay the federal $7.25 an hour minimum wage.

The state Department of Labor and Industry says that the minimum wage law covers full- and part-time workers whether paid hourly rates, commissions, salaries or piece rates. Employees who receive tips also are covered, and tips are not counted as wages.

Those not required to receive minimum wage include those specifically exempted such as babysitters, cab drivers, volunteers of nonprofit organizations and people who provide police and fire protection. Elected officials and those who serve on government boards also are not subject to the minimum wage.

Minnesota's minimum wage was $1.80 in 1974. For years, it followed the federal minimum wage.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.