A HAWAII LIVING WAGE LAW:
CONTRACTED STATE SERVICES
II Frequently Asked Questions
A minimum wage merely establishes a floor for hourly wages that workers must be paid. Aside from the federal minimum wage, states set their own minimum wage levels.
Supporters intend a "living wage" to be higher than a minimum wage. To do this, they define a living wage as an hourly rate of pay to enable one full-time wage earner to earn enough income to maintain a family of four above the federal poverty level. Federal poverty level guidelines are revised yearly by the Department of Health and Human Services. Calculations of the living wage invariably result in substantially higher rates of pay than either the federal or state minimum wages.
No. In terms of coverage, living wage laws have expanded to include employers and entities other than those contracted to perform government services. Some have expanded coverage to all businesses within a certain geographic area regardless of whether or not the firms have contracted to perform government services. Nonprofits, lessees and tenants of firms receiving aid, loan recipients, and other beneficiaries of government assistance such as bond financing, tax increment financing, tax credits, economic development aid, etc., have also been required to pay their workers living wages. Some ordinances require all workers in an affected firm to be paid living wages. Others limit the law to workers actually engaged in the contracted work.
In terms of benefits, the amount of living wages differs across jurisdictions depending on the federal poverty level for a particular state. In addition, living wage laws have added benefits beyond wages. Some include health benefits, paid vacation and sick days, paid and unpaid emergency days and other benefits, including preferential community hiring practices, job creation requirements, and preferential treatment of labor unions.
Supporters say they do. Opponents say they don't. Supporters say the cost is minimal and that city governments and firms can afford them. Opponents say they are not cost-effective and that more efficient and targeted means of income redistribution, such as the federal earned income tax credit can be used. Aside from the findings of "economic hired guns", ultimately, the issue is a political one.