The State Minimum Wage Rate Leaves Many Struggling to Pay Their Bills

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North Dakota’s minimum wage rate mirrors the federal rate at $7.25 per hour. The rate has been $7.25 since a vote to increase it from $6.55 in 2009.

KX News is Putting North Dakota First and investigating our state’s minimum wage trends and why, for many, $7.25 just doesn’t cut it.

Allison Chalcreft is a Part-time Member Service Representative.

She shares, “I’m a single mom, just working part-time right now because I couldn’t afford daycare. I obviously can’t afford to live by myself, so I live at home with my parents.”

Chalcreft makes $10.31 an hour, three dollars and six cents more than North Dakota minimum wage.

She adds, “It’s a really nice place to work. It’s just hard to make a living on what I make.”

In fact, most jobs that come to mind when you think minimum wage actually pay more, in and around the capital city. Like the Burger King in Mandan, hiring for 11 dollars an hour.

Full-time employee Nicci Johnson says, “I don’t even know where to start, I have loans that I haven’t paid off yet from college, but I have rent; just normal, everyday kind of bills.”

Yet, Johnson gets to spend little time at home, because she works three jobs. 

A report released by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition says, in North Dakota, someone needs to be making $16.44 an hour to afford a modest two-bedroom rental, without spending more than 30 percent of their income.

Johnson explains, “I feel like it’s something that I have to do to get by because I want to try to get ahead, and I don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck.”

The chart above shows North Dakota’s minimum wage rate over the years. What’s especially notable is that just ten years ago, minimum wage was $5.85, and one year before in 2007, the rate was more than two dollars less than today’s rate.

Chalcraft says, “I would say at least ten dollars an hour would be nice for people, because things aren’t getting cheaper these days. Prices of groceries and everything are going up; housing is obviously going up.”

In 2017, House Bill 1263 proposed a new minimum wage of $9.25 an hour, and a system for annual minimum wage increases. It ultimately failed to pass 13 to 77.

A North Dakota Minimum Wage Increase Initiative was planning to be on the November ballot. The initiative would incrementally increase the state’s minimum wage to 15 dollars per hour by 2021. 

The committee behind the ballot measure let us know today that although the measure received some positive response, they did not get the necessary 13,452 signatures to make it to the polls this November.

The organization says they will try again during another election year. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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