Montana workers earning minimum wage can expect to see a pay increase next January, the Montana Department and Labor announced on Thursday.
Pam Bucy, commissioner of the Montana Department and Labor and Industry, said the wage will increase to $8.15 an hour – a boost that effects an estimated 3,323 Montana workers, or roughly 1.2 percent of the state’s workforce.
“By tying our minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U), we are making sure that Montana families are keeping pace with inflation,” said Bucy. “Through an increased minimum wage, our workforce will be able to have more purchase power in their local communities.”
Bucy said the industry with the largest number of workers earning minimum wage in 2015 represented the accommodations and food industry. The trade industry was a close second.
Jobs in food and preparations, serving, cashiers, bartenders and retail sales positions topped the list of minimum wage positions.
“Minimum wage workers are a valuable and important segment of our workforce,” said Bucy. “Over half of all workers earning minimum wage are over the age of 25, and over 60 percent of our state’s minimum wage earners are women.”
Bucy said Montana law requires the DOL to adjust the minimum wage for inflation using the Consumer Price Index.
The figure is calculated by taking the current minimum wage of $8.05 an hour and increasing it by the CPI-U increase from August of 2015 to August 2016. Bucy said the CPI-U increased by 1.095 percent over the prior year.
To keep the minimum wage at the same purchasing power as the prior year, the wage must increase by .09 cents per hour, leaving a resulting wage of $8.139. But Bucy said state law specifies that the wage must be rounded to the nearest 5 cents, increasing it to $8.15 an hour.
The new wage goes into effect on Jan. 1.