Nebraskans voted on Tuesday to gradually raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026 as corporate price hikes continue to eat away at workers pay checks and the federal salary floor remains stuck at a meager $7.25.
Beginning in 2023, Nebraska’s current $9 minimum wage will increase to $10.50 and increase by $1.50 each year until it reaches $15 per hour in 2026. Thereafter, the salary will be adjusted for inflation, which is currently at its highest level in four decades.
“We know from experience that fair compensation drives hiring, employee retention and the excellent service our customers rely on.”
While some Nebraska business companies campaigned against Initiative 433—repeating the well-worn and debunked argument that raising the minimum wage would come at the expense of jobs—more than 300 small business owners across the state publicly endorsed the ballot measure.
“Voters have done the right thing for workers and businesses by embracing Initiative 433,” said Steph Terry, chief operating officer of the Morrow Collision Center in Lincoln. “We know from experience that fair compensation drives hiring, employee retention, and the excellent service our customers rely on. Raising the minimum wage will help our state strengthen its workforce and economy. .”
Holly Sklar, CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, said in a statement Wednesday that “minimum wage increases don’t stay in workers’ pockets.”
“They go right back to communities because workers and their families have more to spend in local businesses,” Sklar said. “Now Congress needs to get the message and raise the federal minimum wage by $7.25.”
Since the nationwide Fight for $15 movement began a decade ago, states, cities and towns across the country have raised their minimum wages, offering wage increases to tens of millions of workers amid continued federal inaction. The federal minimum wage has been stagnant for 13 yearsby keeping the salary floor low in a number of states.
The increase that Nebraska minimum wage workers will see in 2023 will be the first since 2016, when the state minimum wage was raised from $8 an hour to $9.
“Local businesses like mine depend on local spending,” said Cinnamon Dokken, owner of A Novel Idea bookstore in Lincoln. “The last time Nebraska raised the minimum wage, our incomes grew and we raised our wages. We look forward to that with the passage of Initiative 433. Raising the minimum wage will put more money in the pockets of workers and will promote better job performance that is vital for the competitiveness of small businesses.”
The minimum wage was also on the ballot elsewhere in the United States on Tuesday. In Washington, DC, voters approved a ballot initiative that calls for raising the minimum wage for tipped workers from $5.35 per hour to $16.10 per hour by 2027.
A ballot measure in Portland, Maine that proposed raising the city’s minimum wage to $18 an hour and eliminating the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers was voted down by voters, a defeat that activists attributed to an aggressive corporate disinformation effort.
“The National Restaurant Association, Uber and DoorDash have poured in hundreds of thousands of dollars to spread misinformation and lies, confusing workers and voters alike,” Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage, said Wednesday. “We will continue to fight for a fair wage in Maine, especially now that inflation is making it hard for people to survive.”