Customers look on as a Walmart cashier rings up their purchases at a Walmart store. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

By Tyler Buchanan and Ohio Capital Journal

The Ohio minimum wage will rise by 10 cents to $8.80 per hour in 2021.

That will be the wage for non-tipped employees. Tipped workers will earn $4.35 per hour plus tips in 2021.

Ohio workers under the age of 16 will make the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour.

Ohio’s minimum wage rises gradually each year to match the rate of inflation, per a state constitutional amendment implemented in 2007. The minimum wage that year was $6.85; it has gone up nearly $2 in the 14 years since.

Michael Shields, a researcher with the left-leaning think tank Policy Matters Ohio, said this increase is not enough to help low-income Ohioans still suffering from the pandemic.

There were several unsuccessful attempts this legislative term (which ends next week) to increase the Ohio minimum wage. 

A 2019 bill from state Rep. Brigid Kelly, D-Cincinnati, called for increasing the wage to $12 per hour and then going up by $1 per year until it reached $15 per hour. Tipped workers would have risen to $6 per hour, going up by 50 cents per year until it reached $7.50 per hour. From there, wages would have risen gradually as is presently done.

State Sens. Cecil Thomas, D-Cincinnati, and Hearcel Craig, D-Columbus, offered a similar bill in the Ohio Senate. These two bills would have allowed local governments to set even higher minimum wages. 

Later in 2019, Democratic state Reps. Lisa Sobecki of Toledo and Kent Smith of Euclid introduced a bill to raise the minimum wage for all workers (regular, tipped and juvenile) to $10.55 per hour in 2021. The wages would’ve then risen gradually in years after that.

None of the above bills made substantial legislative progress. 

There was also an effort in early 2020 to place a referendum raising the minimum wage on the November ballot. Organizers suspended the campaign, saying coronavirus shutdowns made it difficult to secure the signatures necessary to place the referendum on the ballot.

Tyler Buchanan is an award-winning journalist who has covered Ohio politics and government for the past decade. A Bellevue native and graduate of Bowling Green State University, he most recently spent 6 1/2 years as a reporter and editor of The Athens Messenger and Vinton-Jackson Courier newspapers. He is a member of the BG News Alumni Society Board and was a 2019 fellow in the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism.

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