Minimum Wage should be a Living Wage

Eighteen states began 2018 by raising the minimum wage. The majority of states – now totaling 29 – have increased the state minimum wage above the federal minimum wage ($7.25 an hour) which hasn’t been raised in almost a decade.

Vermont has always been a leader in taking care of our workers. Every two years, the state calculates a new living wage – the minimum amount a person needs to earn each year to pay their bills. This is a vital data point for legislators, analysts, and businesses. We also index our minimum wage to inflation, allowing that baseline to adjust as the market changes.

We have an opportunity to be a leader again this year. The Vermont House is considering a bill that would slowly raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next six years. Vermont’s current minimum wage of $10.50 an hour amounts to less than $22,000 a year as a salary, far too low for a single person, let alone a whole family, to survive on.

VBSR took care considering a minimum wage increase this year. We have long supported developing what we call “livable jobs” – a vision for economic growth centered on the creation of jobs with good wages and benefits. Income inequality has slowly chipped away at the earnings of lower and middle-income Vermonters.S.40, the bill approved by the Vermont Senate in a veto-proof bill last month, increases the wage incrementally until it is $15 an hour in the year 2024. This move would result in pay raises for nearly 90,000 Vermonters – many of them household breadwinners and single parents. Breaking these raises up over a six-year timeline also gives Vermont businesses time to plan and adjust.

We have only six or so weeks left in this year’s legislative session to get this bill through the House and to Gov. Scott’s desk. There are two ways you can help VBSR ensure that working Vermonters get a raise on a timeline that is appropriate for the state’s small business community.

  • Testify at the Vermont State House at the April 5 public hearing. The House General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee will hold the hearing from 5:30-7:30 PM in Room 11 at the State House in Montpelier. You should RSVP for that in advance and testimony will be limited to three minutes per person. For more information, email Ron Wild, the House General committee assistant, at
  • Contact your local state representative by phone or email and tell them how this bill would impact your business, employees, and the Vermont economy. Don’t know who your legislator is or what to say? We can help with that! Reach out to Daniel Barlow, VBSR Public Policy Manager, at for assistance