PHOENIX -- Arizona's 43,000 minimum wage workers are not going to get a government-mandated pay boost in January.

And you can blame low oil prices for that.

New figures Wednesday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show the consumer price index dropped a tenth of a percentage point from July. And that puts year-over-year inflation at just 0.2 percent.

That's important because a 2006 voter-approved law requires the state Industrial Commission to adjust the minimum wage annually. And that agency uses the August year-over-year figures.

With the current minimum at $8.05 an hour, effective last January, that 0.2 percent increase comes out to less than two cents. And the commission rounds changes to the nearest nickel.

A formal vote is not set until next month. But absent some adjustment of the figures, the commission is likely powerless to boost the figure.

In its Thursday report, the BLS pegged year-over-year inflation for food at 1.6 percent. And for everything else except energy, there was a 1.8 percent increase.

But all that was pretty much wiped out with energy costs declining 15 percent.

Arizona businesses also are subject to federal minimum wage laws.

But changes to that require congressional action. And while President Obama and others have pushed such legislation, that figure remains at $7.25 an hour, where it's been since 2009.

Among Arizonans making less than that current $8.05 figure are workers in some service industries.

Companies whose workers earn tips get a $3 "credit'' toward the wages. That means it is legal to pay them just $5.05 an hour.

But the Industrial Commission requires proof that the employees are, in fact, bringing in at least $3 an hour in tips.

This would not be the first time the lack of inflation wiped out an increase in the state's minimum wage. There was no boost in 2010 over the then $7.25-an-hour state figure for 2009.


Load comments