Minimum wage takes next step toward $15 an hour

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Delaware slightly less than a year away from a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

On Jan. 1, the base wage increased from $11.75 to $13.25 an hour, with the $15 rate going into effect on the first day of 2025.

Like nearby states (Pennsylvania’s $7.25-an-hour wage is an exception), Delaware is phasing in the $15-an-hour wage. The path to $15 led to the end of lower training and youth wages that had previously been in place as part of a legislative compromise with Republicans.

The average hourly wage in Delaware is nearly $31 an hour, based on the recent employment report from the state labor department.

The minimum wage has become irrelevant in many industries due to a labor shortage that is still a factor in some areas.

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The minimum wage still has critics who believe the marketplace should set wages and contend that the base wage raises all pay and negatively affects some low-margin industries such as restaurants. They also point to technology coming into play in cutting costs and replacing workers with kiosks and robotics at fast food restaurants.

Based on polling, the $15-an-hour wage is favored by a sizable majority of Americans. Referenda votes in states have favored the higher minimum wage, with only a few exceptions. Delaware does not allow direct votes on legislation.

An effort to raise the federal minimum wage stalled in Congress. Republican legislators in Pennsylvania and Congress, by and large, oppose the higher wage.

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