PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Workers in Virginia who earn minimum wage will officially see an increase in 2021.
On Wednesday, Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation increasing the hourly wage from $7.25 to $9.50.
Northam was joined by other elected officials at the Skilled Trades Academy in Portsmouth, where they spoke about the difference this will hopefully make for workers, especially those who are deemed essential.
“These workers provide a vital service to our community and they are doing so greatly at their own risks or the risk of their family’s lives. These higher wages will benefit their families who are living from paycheck to paycheck, ” said Del. Jeion Ward, who is a sponsor of the bill.
Ward says she was excited for Wednesday’s announcement and that Virginians have waited a long time for a minimum wage increase.
The last time the General Assembly voted to raise the minimum wage was in 2009.
The new legislation will go into effect on May 2021 instead of January 2021. Members of the General Assembly voted back in April to delay the start.
Northam says that the commonwealth has been deemed as a place that is good for businesses — and to keep that up, it’s also important to pay employees who work for these same businesses.
“That means our workers are treated and paid fairly. People shouldn’t have to work two jobs to put food on the table,” he said.
The minimum wage will increase to $9.50 in 2021 and will continue to increase each year until 2023 when it reaches $12, according to Northam. Then, the General Assembly will have to vote again to raise the minimum wage to $15. Northam and other officials at Wednesday’s signing hope to have that wage implemented by 2026.
“It is impossible for anybody to support themselves, let alone their families, on $7.25. Think about that. And, that hasn’t been changed for a long time until now,” he said.
Ward and Northam both said that increasing the minimum wage will put more money in the pockets of Virginians, who in turn will put it back into the economy.
“To stimulate our economy, people need to be out shopping in places of business. This will be transferred into the economy,” he said.
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