Hawai‘i has the lowest wages in the nation after adjusting for our cost of living, which is the highest in the nation. As a result, many of our state's families are teetering on the edge of poverty and homelessness.
Hawai‘i's minimum wage increased to $10.10 on January 1, 2018, as the last step of a law passed in 2014. However, at $10.10, a full-time worker with no days off is earning only $21,000 a year.
And our minimum wage has started to to lose ground to inflation because, unlike in 19 other states, Hawai‘i's minimum wage doesn't automatically adjust to keep up with the cost of living.
One of the main drivers of our high cost of living is housing. Currently, a worker in Hawai‘i needs to earn more than $35 per hour (over $70,000 per year) to afford a 2-bedroom apartment. Even if a minimum wage earner were to devote 100% of her earnings towards rent (i.e. not spending any money on food, utilities, etc.), she STILL wouldn't be able to afford a market-rate apartment.
Other states, like California and New York, as well as dozens of cities and counties, have passed laws to raise their minimum wage to $15 per hour. It's past time for us to do the same in Hawai‘i.