Last November, Nebraskans voted to join 23 other states in raising its minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8 in January 2015 and to $9 in January 2016.
Nebraskans for Better Wages collected 135,000 signatures across Nebraska to put the issue on the ballot, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
In Thayer County, it was a close tie: 1,004 for the raise and 915 against.
“This is helping individuals who need it most,” said Jeremy Voss, the Thayer County Economic Developer director. “It’s more for part-time people. It’s empowering to those people and [the money] will go right back into the economy. These are people who will spend their wages buying groceries.”
According to minimum-wage.org, “Nebraska’s minimum wage is applicable to employers of four or more employees, with the exception of small businesses with a gross annual sales of $110,000 or less.”
Nebraska exempts the following workers from the minimum wage: any agricultural and farm employees, government employees, apprentices and learners, volunteer nonprofit workers, immediate-family employees and certain physically or mentally disabled workers.
The current federal minimum wage is still $7.25.
What does this mean for local business owners?
“This is a cost sensitive community,” said Voss. “It’s a key market for low cost providers and prices will go up for low cost providers.”
However, many companies in the area such as Reinke, MetalQuest Unlimited and Thayer County Health Services have specialized jobs that pay above minimum wage.
“It won’t cut into their bottom line, but they may have to raise wages to stay competitive,” said Voss.
But for businesses already struggling to keep up with costs, the change may not be positive.
In the end though, Voss believes it will be a good result.
“Costs and inflation will go up and everything will balance out again,” said Voss. “Eventually the market will adjust itself and hit equilibrium.”