Rhode Island Considers Minimum Wage Hike

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Rhode Island lawmakers are considering raising the state's minimum wage.

Rep. David Bennett has introduced a bill to raise the hourly minimum by $1.10 to $10.10 per hour. Under the measure, the hike would go into effect Jan. 1, 2016.

The Warwick Democrat successfully lobbied last year to raise the wage by $1 to $9 per hour. The higher wage went into effect at the start of this year, and put Rhode Island on par with Massachusetts.

Gov. Gina Raimondo has said she favors a higher minimum wage.

A hearing on the bill was scheduled Thursday.

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training estimates that about 45,000 of the state's residents - or about 8 percent of the labor force - earn $9 an hour.

Bennett said it's hard for people to live on $9 per hour. He said if workers made more, they would spend more locally and stimulate the economy.

"Now is a good time to give them another boost in their wages," he said. "As we come out of the recession, they'll fare as well as everyone else."

The minimum wage in Connecticut and Vermont is $9.15 per hour, and Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont are planning future raises. Wages are lower in Maine and New Hampshire.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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