Labor & Business

The minimum wage in Rhode Island will be $15 – in 2025

“This pro-family legislation will raise wages for 112,000 Rhode Island workers who have spent the last year keeping our state afloat. We know that a $15 minimum wage will make a big difference in the lives of workers, help close the pay gap, and boost the economy, as it has in other states.”
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Published on May 20, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist

Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee signed legislation on Thursday that gradually increases the state’s minimum wage, for non-tipped workers, to $15 by 2025, two years later than neighboring Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The bill will increase the minimum wage from $11.50 to:

  • $12.25 on January 1, 2022;
  • $13 on January 1, 2023;
  • $14 on January 1, 2024; and
  • $15 on January 1, 2025.

“Raising the minimum wage will benefit thousands of working Rhode Islanders and families across our state,” said Governor Dan McKee. “This boost in wages will go back into our local economy, supporting small businesses and our communities… This is an important step in the effort to help lift Rhode Island families out of poverty and support many of our essential workers who put themselves at risk to keep our state running during the pandemic.”

The bills (H5130A / S0001aa) were sponsored by Representative David Bennett (Democrat, District 20, Warwick) and Senator Ana Quezada (Democrat, District 2, Providence). The bill passed the House 57-16, and the Senate 30-6.

Advocates, such as the Rhode Island Working Families Party, who have been fighting for the bill since they successfully worked to elect Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (Democrat, District 5, Providence) in 2016, praised the bill’s passage. They write:

“This pro-family legislation will raise wages for 112,000 Rhode Island workers who have spent the last year keeping our state afloat. We know that a $15 minimum wage will make a big difference in the lives of workers, help close the pay gap, and boost the economy, as it has in other states.

“Today also proves yet again that elections matter. For years, powerful corporate interests have held sway and convinced far too many lawmakers that raising the wages would hurt the economy. But year after year, grassroots WFP activists and our allies came together to recruit, train and elect candidates who made a $15 minimum wage a central campaign issue. And voters have sent a clear message about who they want their leaders to prioritize—working families. Today’s victory belongs to the organizers, advocates, and lawmakers who have been pushing for $15 for years, and to the thousands of Rhode Islanders who have been making their voices heard on this issue.

“We thank the champions who fought for this life-saving increase for so long, and the lawmakers who stood with them to pass this increase. This legislation is a major step forward for Rhode Island workers, and we will continue to advocate in future years that tipped, domestic, and youth workers receive a $15 minimum wage, and that the wage be indexed to inflation, so that all workers can access a living wage.”

As important as this bill is, there is much more to do. Representative Ranglin-Vassell writes, “The ‘fight for $15’ has been going on for so long that $15 is not really a living wage anymore. $15 is the floor, not the ceiling, and we cannot and must not stop working to ensure that Rhode Islanders who work full time can make ends meet.”

Representative Ranglin-Vassell also noted that tipped workers were left out of this wage increase, saying, “…it’s important to recognize that people at the bottom of the wage scale, including tipped workers to whom this bill does not apply, will continue to struggle to support their families in a state where there is not a single community where a person working full time at $15 an hour can afford an average two-bedroom apartment.”

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