Folks at the bottom of the pay scale are soon going to get a bit of relief.
The reason is a 2006 voter-approved law which established a state minimum wage separate from the federal figure. More to the point, that law requires the Industrial Commission to adjust the figure every year. Karen Axsom, director of the commission's labor department, explains.
"It's based on the consumer price index from August to August of each year. And there was a 1.7 percent increase. We round up to 15 cents," Axsom said.
Until 2006 Arizona had no minimum wage of its own, with employers required to pay only what the federal government mandated. The measure approved that year by voters not only created a state minimum wage but required annual increases tied to inflation. The result is that Arizonans now have to be paid $7.65 an hour, 40 cents more the federal minimum. House Majority Leader Steve Court said the current economic situation makes annual adjustments a bad idea. But Rep. Ruben Gallego said the soft economy is precisely why the law is necessary.