Who would benefit from Ohio’s minimum wage going up?

By: - January 29, 2020 1:00 am

Stock image by Jake Zuckerman.

One-thousand, two-hundred and ninety-nine years. 

The how long it would take for someone making Ohio’s minimum wage to earn the same amount as the state’s highest-earning CEO made in just the Fiscal Year 2018. 

TransDigm CEO Kevin Stein earned $23.5 million in FY 2018. An Ohioan earning the minimum wage of $8.70 per hour would have to work until the year 3,319 to make as much as Stein did that year, assuming a 40-hour work week while taking zero vacation time for the next millennium.  

The Ohio Capital Journal recently reported on two efforts to raise the state’s minimum wage. An Ohio representative has proposed a bill to gradually raise the wage to $15 per hour by 2024. 

Progressive groups, meanwhile, have filed paperwork to place a constitutional referendum on the Ohio ballot that would raise the wage to $13 per hour.

We sought to learn how Ohio’s current minimum wage compares to the rest of America, and how a potential increase would impact residents of this state. 

Who benefits?

The Economic Policy Institute reports that more than 28 million Americans would be directly impacted by a minimum wage increase to $15 per hour. Many millions more would indirectly benefit from a “spillover effect,” with employers raising the wages of workers making more than $15 per hour in order to attract and retain employees, EPI research has found

The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan group tasked with researching policy proposals for members of Congress, has the figure of those directly affected at 17 million workers. 

The vast majority of these workers, according to EPI, are 18 years and older who work full-time. The majority are women and a disproportionate amount are people of color. 

Where the Buckeye State stands

There is a federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, which 21 states abide by. The remaining 29 states, including Ohio, have opted to have higher wage rates than the national standard — increases enacted either through legislation or public ballot measures.

Out of all 50 states, Ohio’s $8.70 per hour ranks right in the middle at 25th. In considering just the 29 states with higher minimum wages than the national standard, Ohio (at 25th) is quite low. 

Washington is the state with the highest minimum wage ($13.5/hour), followed closely behind by Massachusetts and Colorado. 

Though ranking in the middle on minimum wage, Ohio does record a lower median household income than the rest of America. In 2018 the comparison stood at $63,179 for the United States and $54,533 in Ohio, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Ohio, like some other states, adjusts its minimum wage on Jan. 1 each year based on inflation. In 2020 that meant a raise of 15 cents from the year prior. 

Ohio voters’ decision in 2006 to index the minimum wage rather than rely on the national standard has proved prescient. The national wage has remained at $7.25 since 2009, the longest period of time without a rise since the first minimum wage was enacted in the 1930s.

The Economic Policy Institute has reported that inflation has reduced the buying power of a minimum wage income over the past 50 years. The national minimum wage reached its buying power “peak” in 1968; today, the current wage is worth 30 percent less than in 1968 owing to inflation. 

That change is especially notable in the past decade of a stagnant national minimum wage. To earn $7.25 per hour in 2018 was to have a 15 percent lower buying power than in 2009. 

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Tyler Buchanan
Tyler Buchanan

Tyler Buchanan is an award-winning journalist who has covered Ohio politics and government for the past decade. A Bellevue native and graduate of Bowling Green State University, he most recently spent 6 1/2 years as a reporter and editor of The Athens Messenger and Vinton-Jackson Courier newspapers. He is a member of the BG News Alumni Society Board and was a 2019 fellow in the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism.