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Arizona’s Minimum Wage Could Be $18 Per Hour Soon

December 28, 2023

By Carson Carpenter |

Arizona’s minimum wage was $13.85 in 2023, up from $12.80 per hour in 2022. On January 1, 2024, minimum wage in State 48 will be raised another 50 cents to $14.35 per hour. This increase will happen despite the fact that Arizona’s inflation rate in 2023 was lower than the national average. That’s because Arizona is a state that raises minimum wage following the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index (CPI). This means that our state follows the inflation rate of the entire country instead of the localized state-level inflation rate. But now, a new group is pushing to ensure that Arizona’s minimum wage grows astronomically higher.

Back on November 7, 2022, a group named Raise the Wage AZ introduced a measure called The One Fair Wage Act. This state-initiated statute, which could be on the ballot in 2024, proposes raising the minimum wage to a staggering $18 per hour. Within this act, it explicitly states, “The One Fair Wage Act raises the minimum wage by $1 over cost of living increases in 2025 and 2026 and leaves cost of living increases in place thereafter.” By 2025 and 2026, the cost of living in Arizona could very well be one of the highest in the nation because of the Phoenix metro area.

Another part of the act is something that will leave many small business owners feeling extremely concerned. It states: “The Act gradually reduces the amount of the employer’s offset due to tips until the employer is required to pay the full minimum wage and employees keep all of their tips on top of that wage.” This will diminish profit margins directly for small businesses and therefore increase product costs to consumers.

It’s bad enough that small businesses have been left behind for the past three years because of mismanagement of fiscal policy and ignorance at the highest level within the federal government. They shouldn’t be expected to face another dramatic increase in minimum wage. Our state cannot fall into the same trap that California and New York fell into, letting large cities dominate secondary cities and smaller towns.

On top of this, the Biden Administration’s neglect of the southern border and immigration policy will leave people that are crossing illegally even more dependent on taxpayer-funded programs—pushing overall costs at a local level even higher. Now is not the time to raise minimum wage by such an extreme margin. This is an unfortunate initiative, because it fails to address any of these other concerns that will end up affecting Arizonans.

The reality is that The One Fair Wage Act is bad for Arizona. If this ballot initiative passes, rural Arizona will be left behind as prices increase dramatically. Small businesses will go dormant. Phoenix will become the Los Angeles of the desert. And the bar of entry to start a business in Arizona will continue to grow higher for everyday Arizonans.

Carson Carpenter is a student at Arizona State University, majoring in Political Science. He is the Vice President of ASU College Republicans and has interned for Reps. Gosar and Crane. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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