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New year, new wages: Minimum wage increases in Linn and Johnson counties on Jan. 1


Photo by Antonin
Photo by Antonin

Minimum wage workers in Linn and Johnson counties will see increased pay coming January as county-based wage increases take effect.

Linn County, which passed a minimum wage ordinance earlier this year, will see the first of three hikes. Come Jan. 1, wages will increase to $8.25 an hour. Additional increases in January 2018 and 2019 will bring wages up to $9.25 and then $10.25.

Johnson County passed its minimum wage ordinance in September 2015. The first increase went into effect in November that year, followed by an increase in May this year. The final increase on Jan. 1 will take the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Starting in July 2018 and each July going forward, the hourly wage will be increased based upon changes to the Consumer Price Index published by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Both Linn and Johnson counties sent out news releases to remind employers of the upcoming changes.

Protesters attended a Tiffin City Council Meeting earlier this year to voice opposition to a tiered wage ordinance that would have paid teenagers less. The tiered system was scrapped, but the city did pass a $9 minimum wage that overruled the Johnson County ordinance. - photo by Adam Burke
Protesters attended a Tiffin City Council Meeting earlier this year to voice opposition to a tiered wage ordinance that would have paid teenagers less. The tiered system was scrapped, but the city did pass a $9 minimum wage that overruled the Johnson County ordinance. — photo by Adam Burke

Some communities in each county have opted out of the increased wage, including the Johnson County communities of Oxford, Shueyville, Solon and Swisher (Tiffin passed a separate ordinance, opting for a $9 minimum wage). Robins, Ely, Center Point and Prairieburg in Linn County have passed counter-ordinances in order to stay at the state level of $7.25 an hour.

The Jan. 1 increases come despite uncertainties about the future of county-initiated ordinances in the face of potential legislative action. An effort to get the Linn County Board of Supervisors to delay implementation of the increased wage in light of these uncertainties failed to pass and the increase will continue as planned.

Four counties — Johnson, Linn, Wapello and Polk — have passed minimum wage ordinances that reach differing final amounts, ranging from $10.10 to $10.75. Gov. Terry Branstad has voiced support for a more uniform minimum wage, including pointing to language already included in the Iowa Code that could prohibit counties from setting local minimums. Laws mandating a state-wide minimum have passed in other states and county officials and activists are eyeing the state legislature to see what might come out of the 2017 session that starts Jan. 9. Republicans hold a majority in both the Iowa Senate and House of Representatives.

Meanwhile some Iowa groups, including the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, are pushing for higher wages of $15 an hour, pointing to a recent study that shows a single adult in Iowa would need to earn $15.10 an hour to make a living wage, and those with student debt would need to earn roughly $16.74 an hour to make ends meet.

More information about the Linn and Johnson county minimum wage ordinances can be found on the county websites:
Linn County Minimum Wage
Johnson County Minimum Wage


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