First phase of minimum wage initiative underway in Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A new year means more money for many Nebraskans after more than 300,000 voters said yes to raising the minimum wage during this last election.

“I’m very happy that my fellow Nebraskans chose to do the right thing,” said Cinnamon Dokken, owner of “A Novel Idea” bookstore in Lincoln.

The initiative was on the November ballot. The first phase began on Jan. 1, raising the minimum wage from $9 to $10.50 an hour.

“Whenever wages have increased, revenue has increased along with it and we’ve been able to raise our wages, so I’m very happy about this,” Dokken said.

The minimum wage will increase to $15 an hour by 2026. Bob Hallstrom, state director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, says the increase could strain small businesses in Nebraska.

“It will take time as it’s phased in, which will soften the blow, but I think the real impact and the concern are on the very workers that the minimum wage is designed to help,” Hallstrom said.

Hallstrom says employees that are already making above minimum wage will likely expect a raise as well, putting added costs on businesses.

“If businesses see their cost increase to the point where they have to raise prices that will hurt consumers, reduce benefits, reduce hours or possibly even cut some employment,” Hallstrom said.

The next increase will be to $12 an hour on Jan. 1, 2024. Once the minimum wage is increased to $15 in 2026, it will be raised based on inflation each year.

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