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Hennepin County could institute $20 minimum wage for county employees

The full Board of Commissioners will vote on the measure next week.

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners could vote next week to increase the minimum wage for county employees from $15 to $20.

Hennepin County Board Chair Marion Greene introduced the measure Tuesday, which passed unanimously out of committee. It now heads to the full board for a vote.

If passed at the Board’s Tuesday meeting, the new minimum wage would go into effect on March 28. The last minimum wage increase for county employees was five years ago.

Greene cited the impact of low wages on people of color, women and people with disabilities.

“The combination of low wages and high rent keeps upward economic mobility for our residents out of reach. An hourly wage increase has the ability to immediately impact the well-being of county employees at the lower end of our pay scales. This is about money in people’s pockets,” Greene said in a statement.

“This is one step the county can take as an employer, but it isn’t a complete solution. I hope that other employers in the region follow our example.”

According to Hennepin County, around one-third of county households pay more than 30% of their income toward housing, classifying them as rent-burdened. And more than 41,000 residents pay more than half their income toward rent.

The increase would affect around 400 county employees. While the increase is limited to Hennepin County employees, County Administrator David Hough said it should act as a model for other employers.

“This change aligns with the county’s goal of reducing disparities in income and employment areas,” Hough said in a statement.

“It also aligns with our workforce development strategy to potentially move clients off government support. But this is just one part of a larger regional problem we need to solve. We need regional employers to look at wages to help be a part of this solution.”

The current minimum wage varies across Hennepin County. In Minneapolis, the minimum wage for employers with more than 100 employees is $13.25 per hour and $11.75 per hour for businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

Minnesota’s state minimum wage recently increased slightly, from $10 per hour to $10.08 per hour for businesses with more than $500,000 in revenue and from $8.15 to $8.21 for businesses with less than $500,000 in revenue. 

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